Sweathogs' work pays off: '273 is Corps' best MWSS

29 Jul 2005 | Cpl. Anthony Guas

Pumping eight and a half million gallons of aviation fuel, re-wiring decrepit buildings and serving over a million and a half meals in Iraq - just a few of the feats that make a Marine Wing Support Squadron the best in the Corps.The Sweathogs of MWSS-273 were recently named the 2005 Marine Wing Support Squadron of the Year for their actions in Iraq and around the world. “It feels great to become the MWSS of the year,” said Sgt. Maj. Linton Hardy, the Sweathogs sergeant major. “We competed against many other MWSS’ and this year we were the best.”To become the MWSS of the Year a squadron must submit a package to the Marine Corps Aviation Association that contains a description of the squadron’s actions throughout the year, unit history, a citation, and a summary of the squadron’s statistics. The Sweathogs’ package was compared to 15 other MWSS’ around the Marine Corps. “We basically try to highlight how much impact we have had on missions,” said 1st Lt. Ben Burns, the assistant operations officer for MWSS-273. “We have 14 functions of aviation ground support and we try to show how we completed our missions.”The squadron was judged on their actions from May 1, 2004 to April 30. In February the entire squadron deployed to Camp Al Asad, Iraq. The squadron also sent a detachment of 32 Marines to Honduras and provided 50 individual augments in other parts of the world. “We are just like everyone else,” Burns said. “We didn’t do anything special, but we just gave a little bit more.”When the squadron arrived in Iraq, there was no aviation support in Al Asad, according to Burns. Along with setting in all the equipment and fueling aircraft, the Sweathogs were supporting a large number of service members, according to Burns. “A squadron our size is meant to support one to two squadrons, which is about one to two thousand people,” Burns said. “But there was a lot more people than that in Al Asad. There was also a lot more aircraft than we’re normally used to.”Although the Sweathogs were stretched to meet the increased demand, they rose to the occasion and completed their mission. The fuel division pumped about eight and a half million gallons of fuel over seven months.“That comes out to 42,500 gallons a day,” Burns said. “The fuels division did a great job out there. Our Marines fueled most of the aircraft that conducted close air support missions.”The fuels division was not the only section that overachieved, the utilities division hardwired run-down buildings to make them livable for a platoon of Marines.“Most of the permanent structures in Al Asad were decrepit,” Burns said. “This was something that utilities doesn’t usually do, but they did it anyway.”The Sweathogs also served over a million and a half meals in Iraq, amounting to 7,500 meals a day, according to Burns. “We were not only serving Marines from (3rd Marine Aircraft Wing), but Marines from the Division and the Force Service Support Group.” Burns said. “We pretty much served almost every one in Al Asad.”Although the Sweathogs were not the only ones working the mess hall, they were in charge of two of the three major mess halls in Al Asad. Along with feeding Marines, the Sweathogs provided food for the Army, Navy Seabees and anyone in the area, according to Burns.“Although we were there to support the 3rd MAW, we took on any other mission,” Burns said. “Even if it meant feeding more people than we were used to.”Several Sweathogs sections contributed to the squadron’s accomplishments in Al Asad. The engineers built an anti-vehicular ditch around the flight line, motor transport supported numerous convoys and the Expeditionary Air Field Marines erected the first M-31 arresting gear in combat.“We provided a lot of support in places were we normally wouldn’t support it,” Burns said. “Everyone out there was doing it, but I feel we had a little bit bigger of an impact.”The Sweathogs feel that they were “just doing their job,” but they also think that they deserve to be the MWSS of the Year, according to Burns.“Everybody from the top down and back up was willing to help,” Burns said. “Becoming MWSS of the Year validates all their contributions. The whole squadron did a great job.”The Sweathogs are no stranger to this honor; they were named MWSS of the Year in 2000.“This creates something of a legacy,” Burns said. “It is well deserved, because the work that the Marines do throughout the squadron is phenomenal.”Many of the Marines feel that being part of the squadron that was named MWSS of the Year is a great honor, according to Cpl. Samuel Stinson, a motor transport driver for MWSS-273.“It took a lot of hard work and I’m happy to be a part of it,” Stinson said. “I’m happy to be part of something that is highly recognized in the Marine Corps.”