MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, SC -- It’s all fun and games until somebody loses an eye. Recently a Marine from Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 533 was not playing any games, and he was not taking any unnecessary risks with his personal safety.
As a flight equipment technician, Lance Cpl. Chandler I. Bunting is responsible for inspecting, maintaining and repairing parachutes, flight survival equipment, carbon dioxide, gaseous and liquid oxygen equipment. A flight equipment technician has to follow several safety rules and regulations and pay attention to detail, according to Bunting.
“We inspect all the pilot’s gear and survival gear and make sure it is good to go,” Bunting said. “We are responsible for the pilot’s safety because we have to be 100 percent positive that what we do will work. It matters that the pilots are well protected and their gear is well maintained.”
Bunting was working alone at his sewing machine at the beginning of his shift making intake and exhaust covers for the Hawk’s aircraft when a 1.5-inch sewing needle snapped and lodged itself into his safety goggles.
“I was sewing exhaust covers when a needle bent, so I replaced it and it bent again,” Bunting said. “I looked in real close to see why it was binding up and I accidentally hit the pedal with my foot.”
When Buntings foot hit the pedal, the sewing needle snapped in half. The force from the break caused the needle to shoot out and puncture the right side of his safety goggles.
“At first I thought it just bounced off,” Bunting said. “I was really surprised.”
Bunting’s incident is a prime example of how important it is for Marines to follow safety guidelines like wearing Personal Protective Equipment, according to Capt. Noah Marquardt director of safety and standardization, VMFA (AW)-533.
“A lot of times flight equipment Marines and Sailors from all communities will be reluctant to wear the required PPE while using the sewing machine,” Marquardt said. “They’re banking on the principle that the one in a million chance of a needle breaking won’t happen to them. Bunting was known for always wearing his PPE on his sewing machine and by simply doing the right thing the prevented a mishap from occurring and losing his eyesight in his right eye.”
Bunting deserves recognition for his professional actions and for following established safety guidelines, according to Marquardt. However, Bunting attributes his actions to his leadership in the Hawk’s flight equipment shop.
“I was working alone, but my higher ups always encourage us to wear PPE,” Bunting said. “That’s why I had them on.”
Marines are encouraged to pay attention to detail, to live up to a set of standards and to follow guidelines, according to Bunting. Safety rules and doing the right thing are encouraged in every shop.
Bunting is a great example of a Marine doing the right thing, and of noncommissioned officers taking the time to train their Marines properly, according to Lt. Col. Mark G. Mykleby, commanding officer, VMFA (AW)-533.
“It is the small things we do every day that matter,” Mykleby said. “I could not be more proud of Lance. Cpl. Bunting.”