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    VMGR-252 Continues Long Illustrious History of Flying

    Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252 pre-flight checks

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Jennifer Poole | Capt. Ryan Alter, a pilot with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron, completes...... read more read more



    Story by Cpl. Jennifer Poole 

    II Marine Expeditionary Force

    AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq — As the sun hits the horizon, a Marine is busily prepping an aircraft for flight. With the aircraft ready, the crew is briefed and loads into the spacious C-130 aircraft. The engine roars and the propellers start spinning. Once all the pre-flight checks have been completed, the crew is ready for departure.

    On board, the crew is relaxed, confident with their abilities and prepared to complete their mission. Today's flight includes transporting a music band on tour with the United Service Organization, aerial refueling and dropping off equipment at other military installations. It will be a long, busy day for the crew of Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252, but nothing they aren't accustomed to here in the dusty skies of Iraq.

    With the distinction of being the oldest continually active squadron in the Marine Corps, VMGR-252's mission is to provide air-to air refueling and assault support, day or night, under all weather conditions during expeditionary, joint or combined operations. .

    The squadron has had a continuous presence in Iraq since 2005. With the focus now shifting to Afghanistan with Operation Enduring Freedom, the squadron KC-130 footprint in Operation Iraqi Freedom has been reduced, but the mission load is still heavy.

    "What we're doing now is just as important as our mission three or four years ago," said Lt. Col. Edward Lang, the executive officer for VMGR-252 and an Aliquippa, Pa., and Mercer, Pa., native., "The risk increases as there are less and less assets to meet the needs of MNF-W."

    Working as one team, in true Marine Corps spirit, the squadron also has a few dozen Marines from VMGR-352 attached with them.

    "Having Marines from VMGR-352 only adds to our strength here," said Sgt. Isaiah Ybarra, a Spokane, Wash., and a crew chief with VMGR-252. "It allows us to work with our fellow brothers, and just adds to the camaraderie we all share.

    Keeping the Marines' morale high is a priority for the squadron.

    "It's a challenge for Marines because as other units are being off ramped to support Operation Enduring Freedom, their desire is to go with them and be in the fight," said Lang. "Myself as well as other senior leaders remind the Marines that what they're doing here remains important, and has a great impact on not only the MEF's aerial assets, but its ground units as well.

    During the first mission of the flight, VMGR-252 provided aerial refueling to an F/A-18 Hornet from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314.

    "Our ability to refuel the jets gives them the ability to stay on station longer and support the Marines on the ground," said Lang. "By providing a more continuous airborne presence, the enemy is less willing to engage ground-based units."

    Before an aircraft even leaves the ground, much work goes in to insuring the aircraft is in good working condition. It takes the dedication of all the Marines working on the aircraft, to include the crew chief, loadmaster and maintainers.

    "There's a great deal that goes into getting the aircraft ready before we leave," said Ybarra. "My job is to coordinate with maintenance, help with aerial refueling, back up the pilots on procedures, and complete ground and in-flight maintenance and to keep track of any discrepancies with the aircraft and report to maintenance."

    The next objective of the day was to drop a piece of equipment at another location.

    "Getting the equipment on and off the aircraft as fast as possible ensures that we stay on schedule," said Cpl. Jon Moninger, a Chicago native and loadmaster with VMGR-352.

    As the day comes to an end, the crew members are still going strong, ensuring nothing was missed during the day's missions. The aircraft is cleaned and readied for the next flight and somewhere in Iraq, Marines are waiting to be transported, aircraft needs refueling and equipment needs to be moved, and VMGR-252 will be there to accomplish the mission.



    Date Taken: 06.24.2009
    Date Posted: 06.24.2009 04:50
    Story ID: 35553
    Location: AL ASAD, IQ 

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