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'Stingers' assist '115 aboard Truman

By Cpl. Jeff M. Nagan | | April 23, 2004

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When a squadron like Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115 deploys, they cannot take the Air Station with them, but they can take enough Marines and Sailors to ensure their mission abroad is successful.

More than 30 Marines of Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 31 joined the Silver Eagles on a 30-day workup aboard the USS Harry S. Truman.

“Our primary mission is to support VMFA-115 and other squadrons on board,” said Gunnery Sgt. Eileen A. Grier, avionics electronic countermeasure noncommissioned officer in charge, MALS-31. “We are part of the USS Harry S. Truman Air Wing team.”

The ship depends on MALS-31 Marines for their expertise and experience with the F/A-18 Hornets, according to Grier. The Navy looks to the Marines for their knowledge.
“We provide I level maintenance to the squadrons on board,” said Staff Sgt. Derrell A. Weitman, non-destructive inspection technician, MALS-31. “If a squadron can’t fix something, it comes to us.”

Stinger Marines are spread throughout the ship, doing different tasks in support of any mission, according to Weitman. They work in several different sections, including avionics, ordnance, power plants, hydraulics, airframes and more.

“Being a MALS Marine and augmenting the ship is a change in atmosphere, but the job stays the same,” said Lance Cpl. Robert A. Simkins, flight equipment technician, MALS-31. “It takes a little getting used to. Here you have to consolidate for size so you do a smaller amount of work at a time.”

Although Simkins is referred to as a parachute rigger while on ship, he and many other MALS-31 Marines continue to do the same job they did while in Beaufort. However, aboard the Truman, the number of Marines is significantly less.

“I work with only two Sailors in Beaufort, but here I am the only Marine in my shop,” Simkins said. “It really hasn’t affected me; the Sailors here are hard workers.”

The same motivation that seems to be breed into Marines can be found in their sea fairing brothers, according to Simkins. In addition, the ship’s chain of command has been very supportive.

“I was here only a week when I met the admiral,” Simkins said. “A week later, I had the chance to go to the bridge. It was a good experience. You don’t realize how big the ship is until you’re up there.”

The ship is well organized, according to Cpl. Brandon L. Eagle, electronic counter measures technician, MALS-31. Sailors and Marines work together as a strong team to keep things running smoothly.

“The goal at hand is the main key,” Eagle said. “We work well together to achieve that goal.”

The Marines aboard the Truman stand out, according to Cpl. Richard A. Eagan, supply purchasing clerk, MALS-31. As part of the team, Marines bring their discipline and leadership to the ship.

“I want to represent myself and the Marine Corps while on the ship,” Eagan said. “Those back home have confidence we will come out here and represent MALS to the best of our abilities.”

Nearly all the MALS-31 Marines volunteered to be part of the Truman team. It is a chance for Marines to experience a different aspect of the Corps while continuing to accomplish the same mission, according to Weitman.

“It gives Marines a chance to get back to our roots,” Weitman said. “We started off on boats working with the Navy, and we are continuing that heritage.”
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