Maintenance Marines keep air station on track

20 Mar 2009 | Sgt. Gina C. Rindt

Fightertown maintainers are a vital part to getting the mission accomplished and continuing productivity around the Air Station. They perform their day-to-day tasks of fixing aircraft, performing maintenance on Ground Support Equipment or Individual Material Readiness List gear and repairing the F/A-18 Hornet parts.

The aircraft maintainers are crucial to keeping the Hornets in mission ready status, so the pilots are able to complete their training and achieve qualifications needed to continue flying.

“The best part of my job is keeping the pilot safe so they can train and complete qualifications, while supporting my fellow Marines,” said Pfc. Matthew Coates, an aviation mechanic with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251. “I also enjoy the responsibility of maintaining a multi-million dollar aircraft.”

Helping the seat shop, powerline, avionic and many other work sections stay prepared are other maintainers, who provide proper GSE or IMRL gear and repair the aircraft parts needed to continue their mission.

“My role in the inspections help the squadrons by repairing parts such as the trailing edge flaps and the leading edge flaps as well as many other parts,” said Cpl. Brian Beck, a composite technician with Marine

Aviation Logistics Squadron 31. “I have aircraft parts arriving on a daily basis from many different departments needing to be repaired.”

Safety is always a key part to the mission for Marines and sailors aboard the Air Station regardless of what their job entails. Being diligent in the task at hand can always go wrong if the maintenance isn’t done by the book.

“Safety is an important part of my job because working around the aircraft can be dangerous if you become complacent or are not aware of your surroundings and the situations you are in,” said Cpl. Daniel Jacob, an ordnance technician with VMFA-251.

The maintainers are expected to obtain qualifications and continue learning about their job so they may be able to teach others the proper ways to maintain any piece of equipment, no matter how big or small.

“My position in the shop as a collateral duty inspector and a collateral duty quality assurance representative helps me produce a quality product,” said Staff Sgt. Darin Hayes, the VMFA-251 airframe division’s staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge.

Crew leaders and division supervisors play vital roles in the shop by teaching and mentoring young Marines and sailors as well as completing other duties specific to their job.

“As a SNCO I teach new Marines by passing on what I’ve learned,” Hayes said. “Keeping the multiple programs online, troubleshooting and fixing difficult problems when the occasion arises is all part of my job.”

There are many complex parts of the job each maintainer has a part in. Whether it is working on gear used for the aircraft or repairing a part from the aircraft itself.

The parts of the job that every Marine or sailor might enjoy varies depending on what their job entails.

“The greatest part of my job is watching a jet launch full of live ordnance during a deployment and it comes back only with the external fuel tanks,” Jacob said. “Then I know I’ve done my job in helping complete the mission, and supporting Marines on the ground.”

 Maintainers continue their hard work aboard the Air Station by playing a very important role in which much respect is earned and deserved, according to Capt. Neil Brubeck, an operations officer with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122. 

“The Marines and sailors are a crucial part of combat operations,” Brubeck said “They are as important to mission readiness as the pilots that fly the aircraft.”