MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C. --
Marine Wing Support Squadron 273 has many sections, from operators who drive the equipment, to the mechanics who ensure it’s running safely and properly.
The heavy equipment mechanics with MWSS-273 work daily to guarantee the Marines and sailors aboard the Air Station have the proper equipment to complete the job at hand.
“As heavy equipment mechanics, our job is important to keep the gear up and running and in a good, safe condition for our operators to use,” said Cpl. Laycie Kelly, a heavy equipment mechanic with MWSS-273. “The operators use the equipment to support Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island and units around the Air Station.”
When squadrons deploy or go on detachments, they have to take all the tools and gear necessary for getting the job done. In the process of doing this, they need help moving the large storage containers. The heavy equipment mechanics and operators both operate the equipment needed to do this.
“If someone on base needs an operator to move gear or anything else needs to be done, they send in a request, which comes to our S-3, who then sends someone qualified on the way to help them depending on the priority,” said Gunnery Sgt. Nick Ashworth, the heavy equipment maintenance chief with MWSS-273. “As a mechanic, some of my Marines have licenses for some of the gear, but as a last resort the mechanics will go. It’s more important to be at the shop, keeping gear maintained.”
Learning to operate the equipment outside of the heavy equipment mechanic field is available through licensing classes.
“When getting your operators ‘license, passing medical qualifications and written exams are necessary,” Kelly said. “The piece of gear determines how long the class is because some gear is more complicated to learn and it takes longer to teach.
“Our licensing noncommissioned officer makes sure Marines or sailors can operate safely so the operator, others around and gear will not get hurt or damaged when on the road,” Kelly added.
There are many pieces of heavy equipment maintained and used around the Air Station such as: forklifts, earth moving gear, fuel pumps, construction equipment and sweepers.
“Our four forklifts are used to move things like pallets, generators, quadcons and more,” Kelly said. “Our graders and D7’s or earth moving gear are used for road improvements or building runways on flight lines, like those in Iraq. The sweeper is used for cleaning roads or runways of debris.
“Some other equipment are fuel pumps which range from, 125 gallons per min to 600 gpm and construction equipment such as chainsaws and concrete saws,” Kelly added.
When new gear arrives, heavy equipment mechanics have to go through classes to learn the new parts or changes made to the gear.
“I had to go to Texas for a class on the Kalmar, another type of forklift we use,” Kelly said. “We do the usual Marine Corps training, refresher courses and teach new mechanics what we already know.”
Keeping gear up and running and ready for the operators is important to get the mission accomplished no matter how large or small.
“I take it personal when a piece of gear goes down; I do anything and everything I can to get the gear up and running as fast as possible,” Kelly said. “I personally will do my best work on every piece of gear given because if you do your best work, chances are, you are only doing the job once to fix it right the first time.”
“The heavy equipment mechanics are the ones who get the job done, without them I would not know what to do, they are the heart and soul of this shop,” said Ashworth.