News: Maintenance Marines making flights possible
Story by Lance Cpl. Tyler J. Bolken
NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. - Marines with Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 3 trained in the desert during Red Flag 10-4, a two-week advanced aerial combat training exercise hosted at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., July 15-30.
A pilot may quarterback an aircraft from an operational standpoint, but in their shadows shine the coveralled maintenance Marines that make all flights possible.
“We’ve got the world’s greatest maintainers,” said Maj. Joseph B. Linggi, an EA-6B Prowler pilot with VMAQ-3.
The maintenance Marines’ job and goal during Red Flag was to provide fully mission-capable aircraft, so aircrew were able to go out and effectively train, explained Gunnery Sgt. Tim A. Norris, maintenance control chief with VMAQ-3.
Red Flag is part of VMAQ-3’s predeployment training to prepare the squadron for its scheduled deployment to Afghanistan in October. Red Flag was an up-tempo exercise, consisting of many more training missions than the regular training day back at Cherry Point. VMAQ-3 brought six EA-6B Prowlers to the multinational training exercise.
In order for a Prowler to be put on the flight schedule, there are certain inspections that the maintenance Marines have to perform to collectively accomplish the final inspection, Norris explained.
“The Marines have had to step their game up a notch and be a lot more fluent in what they do,” said Norris. “Maintenance consists of 14 work centers, and each one is responsible for their piece of the pie regarding the aircraft.”
Once each work center has completed its respective job, maintenance control gives the final go ahead for the Prowler to hit the sky.
“Maintenance control does a final screen on the aircraft and releases it safe for flight, so aircrew can go out and fly their missions,” said Norris. “Everybody is kind of getting the feel for this pace and understanding how to cope with the different stresses of timelines and flights that have to be met.”
Sgt. Norman W. Hinman, powerline mechanic with VMAQ-3, said he thought the new Marines were getting a lot of experience out of the exercise and that Red Flag is a good indicator of how the squadron will perform in Afghanistan.
“We’re doing the best with what we’ve got, and we all lean on each other,” added Hinman.
Norris explained that Red Flag should help prepare the Marines mentally and bring them closer together to gear up for Afghanistan.
“I’m pretty new to this squadron, and this has been a great bonding experience, said Cpl. Zachary J. Grawe, aviation maintenance administration specialist with VMAQ-3. “Our camaraderie as a squadron has strengthened a lot.”
VMAQ-3 returned to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point Monday night.