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Photo Information

Marines from Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 31 help the crew of a C-17 push a container of avionics equipment into place. The equipment was being shipped to Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 40, who are deployed to Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan.

Photo by Cpl. Christopher Zahn

Supporting the fight:

11 Dec 2009 | Cpl. Christopher Zahn

MALS-31 Marines provide their deployed counterparts with essential gear

Combat operations in Afghanistan may seem a long way from the scenic atmosphere of Fightertown, but for Marines stationed here the fight is never far away. When they are not deployed, they still do their part to support their brothers-in-arms.

For leathernecks with Marine Aviation Logistics Group 31, that could mean going to Afghanistan as an individual augment or simply getting the right gear into the hands of their deployed counterparts.

On Nov. 23, the Stingers shipped three vans of avionics equipment to their comrades at Marine Aviation Logistics Group 40 who are currently deployed to Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan.

“The vans are basically a mechanics toolbox for airplanes, said Pfc. William Witt, a logistics embark specialist with MALS-31. “They have different vans for different parts of the aircraft to assist the mechanics with maintaining these aircraft. The vans headed to Afghanistan are designed to repair and maintain avionics equipment.”

The equipment on the vans will provide a comfort factor for the Marines deployed to Camp Leatherneck, who are responsible for maintaining a wide variety of aircraft.

“This is about the 11th C-17 load of MALS-40 cargo that we have shipped here from MALS-31 to Camp Bastion,” said Capt. Sean Melanphy, the embarkation officer for Marine Aircraft Group 31. “They need it to sustain the MALS-40 aviation logistics support for all the aircraft that are out there as part of MAG-40.”

Gear such as this is crucial to supporting combat operations for the aviation combat element. Every bit of maintenance equipment that can keep an aircraft flying is another piece of the team that supports the mission of the U.S. Armed Forces. 

The gear was accompanied by Cpl. Daniel Brown, a ground support equipment technician with MALS-31. He rode in the C-17 from Beaufort to Afghanistan, providing an escort the whole way.

“It was a great experience,” Brown said. “I’ve never deployed, so to be able to take the time and fly to Afghanistan just to deliver this gear was amazing. It gave me a small taste of what those Marines are going through every day.”

However, the journey was far more comfortable for the cargo than for Brown. Military aircraft such as the C-17 don’t splurge on amenities such as insulation, reclining seats or a climate controlled cabin. They function without it, because they are designed to accomplish their mission of carrying cargo.

“It’s incredible how cold the aircraft can get when you’re cruising at 37,000 feet,” Brown added. “I definitely didn’t expect that, but after the first leg of the trip I made sure I was prepared for the cold.”

For Marines like Brown and Witt, this mission was both a physical and morale success. The gear is safely in the hands of those who need it and the Air Station has continued to support those who are deployed. 

 “At the end of the day, it makes me feel like I’ve completed something,” Witt added. “I may not be directly fighting the war on terror in Afghanistan right now, but what I do here helps them there. So, I am indirectly fighting and doing my part.”