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    Heavy equipment operators get dirty to clear runway

    Heavy equipment operators get dirty to clear runway

    Photo By Cpl. David Walters | A heavy equipment operator uses a 624 KR tractor, rubber tire, articulated,...... read more read more



    Story by Lance Cpl. David Walters 

    Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni

    TINIAN, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands – Heavy equipment operators with Marine Wing Support Squadron 171, Combat Logistics Company 36 and 9th Engineer Support Battalion, clear a runway at West Field, Tinian, Aug. 31 during Exercise Valiant Shield 2014.

    Valiant Shield is a biennial exercise which focuses on training that enables real-world proficiency in sustaining joint forces through detecting, locating, tracking and engaging units at sea, in the air, on land, and in cyberspace in response to a range of mission areas.

    The mission of the HE operators during VS 14 is to clear thick vegetation off of an old World War II runway, according to Chief Warrant Officer Jeremy Pelham, an engineer equipment officer with MWSS-171, Marine Aircraft Group 12, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force.

    “We have the equipment and personnel to build an expedient airfield to land the aircraft that we need to land,” said Staff Sgt. Eric Spencer, the HE operations chief with the squadron. “If we are not here, and our gear is not here, then it doesn’t get cleared.”

    The main equipment being utilized are the 850 JR bulldozer and the 624 KR tractor, rubber tire, articulated, multipurpose, also known as a bucket loader.

    Out of about 20 HE operators, only two or three have experience in this particular environment which allows more than 80 percent of the operators to gain new knowledge and experience, according to Pelham.

    Lance Cpl. Cameron Warren, an HE operator with the squadron, has mainly worked with forklifts in the past, and this is his first experience moving dirt and jungle.

    “With forklifts, it’s more about precision, but with this, it’s more technique,” said Warren.

    This environment provides new challenges for most of the Marines, according to Spencer. He hopes they will take this time to improve upon their motor operating skills.

    “Anytime we get our Marines out here with earth-moving gear it’s critical,” said Spencer. “95-98 percent of the operating they do at (their home station of) Iwakuni is (material handling equipment) forklifts.”

    Units with Marine aircraft wings do not have as many opportunities to work with earth-moving equipment as Marines with ESB, according to Pelham. Noncommissioned and staff noncommissioned officers also bring their experiences to the table.

    “There is a familiarization that everyone has and that knowledge is being shared amongst everyone,” said Pelham. “Now, when (MWSS)-171 Marines go back, they have this valuable experience to fall back on, and that’s going in their toolbox from now on.”



    Date Taken: 08.31.2014
    Date Posted: 09.11.2014 04:17
    Story ID: 141762
    Location: TINIAN, MP 

    Web Views: 141
    Downloads: 0