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Powerline Marines keep Silver Eagles flying

23 Jul 2004 | Lance Cpl. Justin V. Eckersley Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort

The Marine Corps prides itself on being able to “do more with less.” The Marines of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115’s Powerline section have exemplified that ideal on their recent deployment to the Mediterranean aboard the USS Harry S. Truman.

While stationed in Beaufort, ’115 has 24 to 36 Marines to maintain, check and launch the aircraft, according to Gunnery Sgt. James D. Park, Powerline chief, VMFA-115. On their current deployment, the Marines only have 16 powerline technicians to complete their duties.

“These Marines have done an unconditionally outstanding job,” Park said. “We’ve been operating with the bear minimum of individuals.”

Even when operating with a full staff, the Silver Eagles’ Powerline shop does the work equivalent of three shops, according to Park.

“In the plane captain department, they only have 32 people,” Park said. “Not only do we do more with less, but we do it successfully.”

During a Composite Training Unit Exercise, the Marines had four days where they were unable to launch every aircraft, and even on those days only one or two aircraft were not launched. The shop is currently number two in the Marine Corps for mission completion ratings, according to Park.

For the Powerline Marines, life on ship is very busy, according to Lance Cpl. Rodger Lagrange, plane captain, VMFA-115 Powerline.

“There’s a really high demand, and a lot of hustle back and forth from jet-to-jet,” Lagrange said. “There’s really not a whole lot of downtime. This place is a whole lot more intense than Beaufort.”

With all of the difficulties of their job, the biggest change from being in Beaufort was getting used to the logistics, according to Lagrange.

“There are so many rules and regulations out here,” Lagrange said. “There are just so many factors that have to be just right to launch the planes.”

Training for Powerline Marines includes two separate schools, each about a month long. The experience they receive out in the fleet helps them learn about the aircraft they will work with, and what their specific job will be within the unit, according to Lagrange.

“We try not to overwhelm them when they first show up,” Lagrange said. “We try to make them plane captains as soon as possible, so they can learn as much about the aircraft as they can.”
With a small and busy shop, the Powerline Marines become close and dependent on each other, which builds bonds between them, according to Lagrange.

“It’s a really tight shop once you’ve worked here long enough,” Lagrange said. “It’s like a brotherhood, everybody is just really tight.”

Powerline’s close-knit atmosphere, and their dedicated attitudes have allowed them to overcome the difficulties of being undermanned, turning a difficult situation into a success story, according to Park.

“My hat is off to them,” Park said. “I can’t ask for a better crew.”