Jack of all trades: MALS Marines keep Fightertown rolling during OIF

1 Aug 2003 | Lance Cpl. Micah B. Snead

(Editors note: This article is the third of a four-part series that will look at the squadrons and Marines who recently returned from Operation Iraqi Freedom to understand what mission they are focusing on now.)Three Air Station squadrons turned to the Stingers of Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 31 to keep their jets rolling during Operation Iraqi Freedom.The Stingers perform behind-the-scenes maintenance on the F/A-18 Hornets of Marine Aircraft Group 31. The mission of MALS Marines is to make intermediate level repairs on aircraft. These repairs are needed when an aircraft problem is too serious to be solved at the squadron level. The Marines in MALS come from every walk of life of an aircraft maintainer and are divided into sections ranging from supply to ordnance and power plant.With Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 533 and Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251 deployed to Kuwait and Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122 aboard the USS Harry S. Truman the Stingers were spread across the globe.In Kuwait, the Stingers joined the Devilfish of Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 11, and worked on the F/A-18 Hornets and AV-8B Harriers of Marine Aircraft Group 11. The Devilfish were thankful to have the Stingers on their team."With the addition of '533 and '251 to the group, it was very necessary to have the extra augments," said Sgt. Maj. Antonio R. Adversalo, squadron sergeant major, MALS-11. "The Marines all pulled together as a team and performed very well during the operation."The Marines provided a familiar face for the Fightertown squadrons who were working with an entirely different group for the first time, according to Chief Warrant Office 2 David L. Baker, maintenance and materials control office, MALS-31. Baker joined VMFA-251 for the OIF deployment."There are always some bumps and wrong turns when you're dealing with a new command," Baker said. "While in Kuwait, we missed the outstanding support of MALS-31, but it was good to know some of the Marines out there with us. We always knew that if we needed anything, the Stingers would do whatever they could to get it to us."Aboard the Truman, MALS Marines joined the Silver Eagles of VMFA-122. The Stingers also pulled duty aboard aviation logistics support ships. These ships provide rapid response aviation support for forward-deployed fixed-wing aircraft."It was a lot of work keeping all the jets in top shape," said Staff Sgt. Marcell V. McGough, supply chief, MALS-31. "It was almost non-stop action but everyone worked together very well. We believed in the mission and were proud of the aircraft we were supporting."Unlike the average Fightertown squadron, MALS-31 does not have regular deployments, however, they regularly send detachments out with other units. This forces the Stingers to stay ready at all times for their next deployment. "Our Marines see more deployments than anyone else on the Air Station because even if only one squadron is gone, it means they have Stingers right alongside with them," said 1st Lt. Ryan S. Nichols, unit information office, MALS-31. "Our mission is to support the jets whenever and wherever they need us."