News: Bats' maintainers keep Hornets buzzing
Story by Cpl. James Smith
NAKON RATCHASIMA, Thailand - FA-18D Hornets continue to fly through the skies as Marines with Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242, Marine Aircraft Group 12, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, constantly maintain aircraft aboard Wing One Royal Thai Air Force Base, Nakhon Ratchasima, Kingdom of Thailand, during Exercise Cobra Gold 2014.
CG 14 is a joint, multinational exercise conducted annually in the Kingdom of Thailand aimed at enhancing and increasing multinational interoperability.
Five separate shops make up the maintenance division of VMFA(AW)-242 including airframe mechanics, avionics electrician technicians and ordnance. Each shop performs different functions, but all have a common goal; ensure aircraft are able to get in the air.
“We understand that there is a mission, and if the time comes where we need to engage the enemy, our unit is going to be one of the first to go,” said Cpl. Jacob Scott, air frames mechanic with VMFA(AW)-242. “It’s not just about maintaining aircraft, but more of having an objective that needs to be completed, otherwise, we won’t have the necessary firepower to fight back.”
The maintenance division also provides Marines the opportunity to learn from one another.
“Working with four other shops is great because I get to learn about different platforms, different aircraft and you get to work with other squadrons as well,” said Scott. “You get more experience on the job than with the people you’re used to working with.”
While maintainers put maximum effort into fixing aircraft, operations may not go exactly as planned. These challenges can introduce opportunities for Marines to come together and figure out a solution. This can become difficult when the issue requires certain needs.
“The only issue with being in a different country is the supply system,” said Sgt. Victor Castellanos, avionics electrician technician with VMFA(AW)-242. “It makes it really hard for us to get parts to fix the aircraft.”
For maintainers training in CG 14, their culminating efforts is what keeps aircraft in the air and ready to deploy anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice.