MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C. -- The flightline seems a little busier these days, especially after the return two weeks ago of Fightertown’s last two squadrons, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251 and Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 533.
With their arrival, Fightertown’s six squadrons will need the parts and intermediate level maintenance that can only be provided by Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 31.
Beyond the high traffic on the flightline, there will be some high speed work taking place on the MALS-31 van pad. Intermediate level maintainers work to provide necessary components to six F/A-18 squadrons parts, which are needed to keep their aircraft in the air and conducting day-to-day training.
According Master Gunnery Sgt. Evelyn Ocasio, MALS-31 maintenance chief, MALS-31 will bear the brunt of the higher number of aircraft at the end of the day.
“It really all comes down to simple supply and demand,” said Ocasio. “We’re going to have six squadrons asking for the same parts and needing the same work completed, which means more work for our Marines.”
The Stingers also support numerous operations throughout the world, and even with the heavier garrison work load they are still managing to lend a helping hand where it is needed. Maintainers of MALS-31 serve at the tip of the spear or in support of numerous training exercises around the world.
“The second half of the Marines we are sending to support Operation Enduring Freedom are preparing to head out, as well as, the Marines we are sending to help Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 40,” said Capt. Patrick Haines, MALS-31 maintenance officer. “The absence of these Marines will have a large impact on the work tempo for the remaining maintainers.”
Although the work load will increase, the Marines on Fightertown will still provide the same components and support for the radar, engines and other systems and equipment used by the Hornets to complete their training while in garrison.
“The increase in the workload will affect the Marines, but this is the time for all of us to work together and get the job done,” said Sgt. Hiram Cuevas, a MALS-31 avionics electrician. “We will push through and overcome the work load, just like any other obstacle that we may face.”
The saying, “doing more with less,” is emblematic by the example set by the MALS-31 Marines. They may be few, but they have quality training and each other to accomplish
“The one thing that will allow us to overcome this challenge is the quality of our Marines,” said Haines.
The quality work and due diligence was on display during a recent inspection, he added, and went on to say, “that it was due in no small part, to the hard work of each and every Marine.”
After mission completion comes troop welfare, which can be a challenge with a daunting task to accomplish, however by taking the time to get away from work it allows Marines to gather their thoughts and refocus on the task at hand.
“Regardless of the work that these Marines will do we will still try to keep up their morale,” Ocasio said. “We are planning a family day for the Marines to enjoy and keep their spirits up.”
Having a high work load or obstacle can be daunting, but luckily for the maintainers of MALS-31, obstacles are their specialty.