News: Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 24 aids Combat Assault Company with equipment
Story by Kristen Wong
MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii - In recent months, the Marines and sailors of Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 24 made room in their busy schedule to help prepare safety devices for use by the Marines of Combat Assault Company, 3rd Marine Regiment, during Exercise Rim of the Pacific 2012.
There are very few openings in an amphibious assault vehicle while it operates in the water. During an emergency, it can be difficult to escape from an amphibious assault vehicle immediately, so it’s beneficial to have a breathing apparatus that will help the Marines stay calm, according to Gunnery Sgt. Chris Shaw, platoon sergeant, assault amphibian vehicle platoon, CAC.
“It’s always good to have that secondary measure of air in the event the unthinkable can happen,” Shaw said.
In preparation for the recent Rim of the Pacific exercise, CAC ordered life preservers and breathing apparatuses. However, the equipment they ordered was not appropriate for the environment in which the Marines trained.
Due to limited time before the recent Exercise Rim of the Pacific 2012 began, CAC asked MALS-24 if they would be able to assist and issue life support equipment for use during the exercises. By the end of June, the members of the MALS-24 Aviation Life Support Systems Division had inspected more than 400 life preservers and Survival Egress Air bottles, making sure that each functioned properly and was ready for issue.
“It was pretty exciting watching the air and ground units working together,” said Lt. Cmdr. Steven Holland, the aircraft maintenance officer for MALS-24. “Our Marines and sailors said ‘yeah, we can do this,’ and the AAV Marines jumped in and asked where we could help.”
Holland said this was the first time he had worked with a Marine ground unit, and found it enjoyable.
“They are a great bunch of professionals and I’m glad MALS-24 was able to help them complete their mission,” Holland said.
Preparing the life preservers and oxygen bottles in such a short time frame was not an easy task.
According to Petty Officer 1st Class Jacob Garrison, air crew survival equipmentman, MALS-24, each of the oxygen bottles needed to be taken apart and inspected for functionality while the life preserver was subjected to two separate four-hour leak checks. There were other tests in addition to these.
On Wednesday, Lt. Col. Edwin R. Rich, commanding officer, MALS-24, Col. Nathan L. Nastase, commanding officer, 3rd Marine Regiment, and Col. Paul A. Fortunato, commanding officer, Marine Aircraft Group 24, attended a small formation where Rich presented a Marine and sailor from MALS-24 each with a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement
Medal for managing their departments while accomplishing the inspections.
Sgt. Rudy Castillo, a collateral duty inspector and quality representative at MALS-24, was one of the award recipients. Castillo and his crew inspected and tested the life preservers in addition to their normal daily duties. Sometimes that meant working through lunch. He said it was reassuring to know that MALS-24 was helping fellow service members stay safe.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Paul Villaruz, air crew survival equipmentman, MALS-24, also received the award. Villaruz and his crew inspected and tested the oxygen bottles. Sometimes that also meant working late and occasionally on the weekends.
Both Castillo and Villaruz credited their crews for their efforts in this large project.
“We’re always willing to help whoever needs the help,” Villaruz said.
Nastase pointed out that the equipment came in handy during a very crucial time in July, keeping more than 30 Australian service members afloat when they were forced to abandon their vessel approximately two miles from shore.
“Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 24 is the only fully integrated aviation intermediate maintenance level support unit,” Rich said. “MALS-24 is prepared to provide global, strategic support to anyone that needs their help. An example of this mindset and the support MALS-24 provides to all segments of the Navy-Marine Corps team is the lateral support they provided to their brother Marines at (Combat Assault Company).”