News: Station squadrons perfect sortie producing capabilities during surge day training
Story by Lance Cpl. James Smith
IWAKUNI, Japan - The sound of jet engines roared throughout the day and into the night during a Marine All- Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242 surge on Jan. 30, 2013.
VMFA(AW) 242, Marine Wing Support Squadron 171, Strike Fighter Squadron 195 and Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 115 both from Naval Air Facility Atsugi, continuously executed operational maintenance and upkeep while simultaneously performing sorties and pits during a 15-hour period.
A sortie is the time from when an aircraft takes off from a certain point to the time it returns to said point. A pit is when an aircraft is refueling and switching pilots while still turning on the flightline.
The success of a surge is dependent on the interoperability of every level, from maintenance to operations.
One of the many goals of a squadron surge is to determine how well Marines can react in the event of an emergency situation and how fast they can deploy aircraft in a safe and timely manner along with discovering any improvements which can be made.
“The Marines have exceeded their planned maintenance requirements by proactively and aggressively pursuing these requirements,” said Capt. Michael J. Souza, VMFA(AW)-242 airframes division officer-in-charge. “There is always room for improvement, especially as younger Marines step up, gain qualifications and experience to take on more challenging roles.”
Each individual shop plays an important role in the surge, as all their combined efforts make the aircraft safe and fast as possible.
“What I do is, I go out and troubleshoot if they have certain problems,” said Sgt. Brandon Gruenhagen, VMFA(AW)-242 airframe mechanic supervisor. “On launches, we do a series of checks and if they have any problems, the frame or hydraulics, they’ll call one of us to try and fix the problem.”
At the end of it all, the message is clear. The squadron surge tests how efficient the servicemembers training in VMFA(AW)-242 really is, how fast they can respond in certain situations and to find out what they need to improve.
The opportunity to perform in such training exercises can possibly ensure, when the moment does arrive, servicemembers are ready to heed the call.