MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C. --
Marine Wing Support Squadron 273, also known as the Sweathogs, bested 15 other MWSS’ to take home the 2006 MWSS of the year.
During their most recent deployment to Iraq, MWSS-273 was responsible for the tactical recovery of seven coalition aircraft. Additionally while deployed, the Sweathogs provided more than 28 million gallons of fuel to coalition aircraft, conducted approximately 275,000 miles of motor transport operations, rendered safe 126 improvised explosive devices, destroyed 10 enemy weapons caches, and conducted more than 11,000 hours of heavy equipment operations and four outside-the-wire construction missions to improve living conditions at local combat outposts.
“(In Iraq) we utilized small unit leadership to carry out the mission safely,” said Sgt. Joshua Parrella, assistant fuels maintenance chief for MWSS-273. “We implemented exactly what we were trained to do.”
The Marines of MWSS-273 put the mission first no matter what problems they encountered during their deployment to the remote Al Asad Air Base in North Western Iraq.
“We had a good group of Marines,” said Sgt. Rico Brown, fuels chief dispatcher for MWSS-273. “We were short-handed and we still completed the mission, which was keeping aircraft in the air and in the fight.”
Some of the Sweathogs accomplishments, on and off deployment, include maintaining a 98 percent equipment readiness rate during combat operations, supporting more than 13 fixed and rotary wing squadrons 24 hours a day, as well as local activities such as civic volunteer efforts on behalf of the Beaufort community, according to Lt. Col. Jeffery Hooks, the former MWSS-273 commanding officer, who will receive the award on behalf of the squadron in Reno, Nev. in October.
“Our unit was only designed to support three or four squadrons,” said Cpl. Jene Majzun, a tactical data networking specialist with MWSS-273. “But we provided service for 13 flying squadrons while aboard Al Asad Air Base.”
This will be the Sweathogs third time earning the MWSS of the Year award. They also took home the award in 2000 and 2005.
“Each section of the squadron came together as one cohesive unit to win this award,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kevin Pierre, the fuels officer-in-charge for MWSS-273. “I think we can accomplish this again next year,” said Pierre. “It’s a huge morale boost to win and it shows that our work means something.”
“I am proud of everything that they’ve done here and overseas,” said Sgt. Maj. Gary Tolar, the Sergeant Major of MWSS-273. “They’re fine Americans and great patriots.”