News: MWSS-371 Sandsharks deploy
Story by Lance Cpl. Laura Gauna
YUMA, Ariz. - More than 100 Marines said their goodbyes to family, friends and fellow Marines at a station hangar Sept. 2 before deploying to Afghanistan for a 7-month tour.
While deployed, Marine Wing Support Squadron 371 will support Operation Enduring Freedom with ground support requirements to an aviation combat element.
"These Marines are prepared to do their jobs out in Afghanistan," said Capt. Kevan Lewis, MWSS-371 operations officer and 39-year-old native of Salt Lake City, Utah. "They have been training for this. They'll be distributed all over Helmand province, so young Marines will be operating and making decisions on their own that will produce immediate results and that is extremely rewarding for a junior Marine."
Throughout their time in Afghanistan, they will spread across seven sites with augments from 30 different locations, more than 20 separate units and a medical team from all over the world.
These station Marines will provide aircraft rescue and fire fighting capabilities, refueling operations, expeditionary airfield capabilities and build helicopter landing zones.
They'll be responsible for several base camp services such as air field security, airfield communications, engineering services, utilities, water and motor transportation.
Crash crews are prepared to handle life-threatening situations outside of the wire, as well as any type of fire on base and perform arrested landings in case pilots have to make an emergency landing and need to be stopped immediately.
"The Yuma Marines are known throughout the crash crew community as being some of the best trained guys around because this is one of the busiest air fields," said Staff Sgt. Edward Neal, MWSS-371 expeditionary airfield operations chief and 30-year-old native of San Diego. "I'm excited to get out there and get it done. It's the same work day just a different area. This is what we do every day so it's nothing new to us."
The second stick is set to deploy later this month.