MCAS YUMA, Ariz. --
Haul, load, connect the wires, rig the lanyards, arm the bomb, check everything and check it again. These are the critical duties of a certain breed of Marine.
The aviation ordnance Marines of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115 have spent the last two weeks at Exercise Desert Talon 1-08 working as if they were already in Iraq.
“This is as close as we can get to the real thing, so we do things here the way we will when we deploy,” said Gunnery Sgt. Derrick Jones, the noncommissioned officer-in-charge of VMFA-115’s ordnance division.
While here, Marines get a firsthand look at the types of ordnance they will be using while deployed, as well as the experience of working at a fast pace in desert conditions, Jones said.
“The environment here has certain effects on the equipment and jets, just like what we will deal with when deployed,” Jones said. “Learning about these problems here lets us know what to look for over there.”
Throughout their training in Desert Talon, these Marines have been honing their skills, ensuring the success of each bomb sent down range.
“We have to be very efficient,” Jones said. “A mistake by one of us can be detrimental to the pilots and the ground troops we support.”
During Desert Talon, aviation ordnance Marines are trained to work with a sense of urgency while remaining proficient, said Sgt. Jack Hoppes, an ordnance technician with VMFA-115.
“Pilots are taking off and coming back every couple of hours,” said Cpl. Damean Lyon, an ordnance technician with VMFA-115. “As soon as we get the bombs, everybody has to be ready to go.”
“The jets should never be waiting on us, because that means ground units are waiting for much-needed support,” Hoppes said. “The tempo is constantly changing and we have to keep up.”
Getting the proper ordnance deployed quickly and ensuring the bombs will do their job when dropped is the responsibility of every aviation ordnance Marine involved. As long as there are bombs to drop, the ordnance Marines of VMFA-115 will continue to work as hard as it takes to get the proper ordnance delivered, loaded, armed and ready for the mission.