Monday, June 30, 2008

Marines learn skills to save lives

Cpl. Jessica Aranda

AL ASAD, Iraq (June 14, 2008) – Marines deployed with 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) recently became certified lifesavers after completing a class hosted by Navy corpsman here June 13.

The combat lifesaver skills course is designed to train non-medical personnel the basics of emergency care, enabling them to step in and provide assistance to patients and corpsman in a combat environment.

“While conducting combat operations, there could only be one corpsman assigned to an entire unit of Marines,” explained Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Rodrick Jones, the course instructor and corpsman with Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 3, 3rd MAW (Fwd.) “So when an emergency arises, these combat lifesavers become integral to stabilizing patients and assisting the corpsman.”

During the 40-hour course, instructors teach students enhanced first aid, such as clearing an airway and maintaining breathing and circulation. With hands-on activities, Marines learned how to stop bleeding, start an IV, stabilize patients with spinal injuries and treat heat casualties.

“This course gave me the confidence to help my buddies should any emergency situation arise,” said Cpl. Fabian Reynolds, a communications and navigations radar technician with Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 4. “I now have a better chance of saving their lives instead of running around frantically wondering what I need to do.” explained Reynolds, a native of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

At the conclusion of the course, Marines had the opportunity to apply all the procedures they learned during a mock-casualty drill. During the drill, students arrived on scene to find simulated patients with unknown injuries. With assistance from instructors, students had to assess injuries and decide how to treat victims based on the care methods they learned during class.

“I am hoping that each student takes away a general knowledge of how to treat injuries,” explained Jones, a native of Gaston, Ala. “Not just emergencies that could happen in Iraq, but emergencies that could occur in the home or in a traffic accident they may happen to arrive at. If they apply what they learned in this course, they could make the difference between life and death for a patient.”

Saturday, June 28, 2008

‘Purple Foxes’ add fourth deployment to squadron history books

Lance Cpl. Michael Stevens

AT-TAQADDUM, Iraq (June 13, 2008) – Currently on their fourth deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 364, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), provides important services to Marines and service members throughout the Anbar Province.

As the only CH-46 Sea Knight squadron operating in country, the “Purple Foxes” provide key support functions such as command leader transports, troop inserts and extractions and cargo transport.

“On previous deployments the squadron has been the primary means for casualty evacuations, but we’re not doing that anymore,” said Sgt. Brian Dinning, a CH-46 crew chief with HMM-364. “It’s a sign of good improvement in the province now that there are less and less evacuations necessary.”

The Foxes know the level of support they bring to the war effort and take pride in everything they do.

Their efforts in getting the aircraft flying directly correlates with how much support the unit can give to each Marine, sailor, soldier, airman or coalition partner out on the ground, explained Lt. Col. Mark G. Schrecker, the squadron’s commanding officer.

Although CH-46 squadrons are being phased out to make room for the Corps’ newest medium-sized aircraft, the MV-22 Osprey, the Sea Knight continues to serve as a valuable asset.

“Right now, we have the oldest aircraft in country and we’re arguably carrying the highest maintenance readiness percentage. That’s simply due to the Marines’ efforts,” said Schrecker.

As a reminder of the age and history behind the aircraft and the squadron, painted on the side of each CH-46 is an exact replica of the logo used during its tour in Vietnam.

“The squadron history reminds the Marines how important our job is,” said Schrecker. “My Marines are awesome and absolutely blow me away everyday. It’s amazing how hard they work and how motivated they are.”

‘Say hello to my little friend’; Scarface assets keep Baghdad streets safe

Lance Cpl. Michael Stevens

BAGHDAD, Iraq (June 10, 2008) – Soaring hundreds of feet above the capital city of Iraq, Marine attack helicopters poise ready to respond at a moments notice.

Directly supporting U.S. and Iraqi Army units, the UH-1N Huey and AH-1W Super Cobra circle the Baghdad sky, keeping a watchful eye on ground operations on the streets below.

Armed with a variety of weapon systems, this security detail is a frequent mission for Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 367, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward).

“Our mission was to provide on-call close air support as well as aerial surveillance in the area of Baghdad,” said Capt. Eric Mitchell, a UH-1N Huey pilot. “We’re tasked with looking at different points of interest and checking on friendly convoys but also providing support to Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police check points in the city.”

Providing as much aviation support as possible, the Marines assist the ground combat units by responding to their requests and reacting immediately in support of their needs.

“When we’re supporting a convoy, we’re looking ahead of their path for anything suspicious,” said Mitchell. “We relay information to the convoy and to the joint tactical air command to let them know what we see and gain clearance to fire on the threat before it harms anyone.”

Like most operations in Iraq, the aircraft face dangers during their mission. Surface-to-air weapons could engage them at any moment. The pilot and aircrew rely on their defense systems to react appropriately in the event of an enemy advance.

“The mere presence of HMLA rotors deters the enemy from doing anything while we’re out there,” said Mitchell. “The ground commander knows they have an aviation asset on their side that can deliver fire against the insurgency.”

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Aviation logistics; a key to flying success

Lance Cpl. Michael Stevens

AT-TAQADDUM, Iraq (June 14, 2008) – With detachments throughout the Anbar province, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), works diligently to keep aircraft in the air and in the fight.

One unit in particular, Detachment A, MALS-16, keeps the CH-46 Sea Knight, UH-1N Huey and AH-1W Super Cobra flying in support of the Coalition effort through maintenance and routine inspections aboard Camp Taqaddum.

“Our key mission is to provide an intermediate level of maintenance support to the Marine flying squadrons here,” said Gunnery Sgt. James E. Peeler, the Detachment A staff noncommissioned officer in charge. “When components break on the aircraft here, we’re the first ones to obtain the part and try and fix it.”

Along with providing maintenance on aircraft parts, the squadron possesses a number of ground support equipment used by squadrons throughout the flight line. This gear includes portable lights to allow illumination throughout the night and machinery for loading and unloading cargo from aircraft.

In addition to providing squadrons with equipment, the MALS-16 Marines use their capabilities to conduct in-depth aircraft inspections.

“We have the gear to visually inspect the high-stress areas of the aircraft,” said Sgt. Kenneth Hudson, a non-destructive inspector with Detachment A. “It allows us to see what the naked eye can’t reveal. We use a standard procedure so we can properly inspect the aircraft and its parts.”

These inspections take place after a pre-determined number of flight hours to ensure the safety of the pilots and crew.

The avionics Marines troubleshoot and repair the aircraft survivability equipment on each Marine Corps aircraft, as well as the Army UH-60 Black Hawk.

The 3rd MAW (Fwd) Marines fill an important role, reacting to all situations and ensuring the aircraft are able to continue supporting ground elements at a moments notice,” said 1st Lt. Alexis F. Vogelgesang, the Detachment A officer-in-charge.

“I’m proud of all the Marines under my charge,” said Vogelgesang. “We have augments from several units that team together to get the job done safely and in a timely manner. Our detachment’s cohesion is thriving and will continue to do so for the duration of our deployment.”

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Brothers distance goes from entire continent to 200 ft

Lance Cpl. Michael Stevens

AT-TAQADDUM, Iraq (June 14, 2008) –Sergeant Jason White, a Marine assigned to Detachment Alpha, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), and Spc. Wesley White, a soldier with Bravo Company, 1-52 Army Aviation Regiment, have the luxury of a having a brother around to help them through their deployment.

“I still can’t get over it,” says Jason, the younger brother at 27. “We both joined the military and got stationed on completely different sides of the country, now we’re both deployed at the same time, to the same location in Iraq; it’s just amazing.”

Stateside, Jason is stationed at Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C., while his brother Wesley, 29, is on the opposite side of the U.S. at Fort Wainwright, Alaska.

With the deployment to Camp Taqaddum, the nation-wide gap between the two brothers is now closed to no more than 200 feet.

The Hopewell, Va., natives, conveniently have work stations facing each other on the Camp Taqaddum flight line, allowing for a quick walk to meet one another.

“Having my brother here has definitely made this deployment more tolerable,” said Wesley.

The two often meet at the chow hall to eat with one another, or stop by each others living area at the end of shift to talk, explained Jason.

Sharing more than just a blood line, the brother’s work in the same occupational field for their respective services. Both are hydraulic mechanics; Wesley on the CH-47 Chinook and Jason, trained on the MV-22 Osprey.

“It’s been an awesome experience to see the similarities and differences in the way the two services do similar jobs,” they both explained.

Though they’re not sure when or how often they’ll get to see one another once the deployment ends, the two are enjoying each other’s company and value the time they spend deployed together.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Navy docs extend treatment to local village

Cpl. Jessica N. Aranda

AL-ANBAR PROVINCE, Iraq (May 15, 2008) – Medical personnel attached to Marine Wing Support Squadrons 172 and 274 visited a local village to participate in a cooperative medical engagement here today.

CME missions are dedicated to providing health care to local nationals who lack adequate facilities while simultaneously raising awareness on the people’s health conditions to the Iraqi government.

“The Marine Corps is often involved in special task forces, so humanitarian efforts like this one are not a foreign concept to the military,” said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Christina M. Williams, the medical officer for MWSS-274.

We go to the community to screen patients, share resources and report our findings back to the Iraqi Minister of Health, explained Williams.

During the mission, personnel set up a clinic at the town’s school where locals met with medical staff to discuss health issues.

While examining more than 30 Iraqis, doctors discovered a myriad of illnesses ranging from hypertension and respiratory infections to intestinal diseases, a consequence of drinking unsanitary water.

To treat these illnesses, the medical personnel distributed bottled water and antibiotics. The CME team also passed out toiletries, demonstrated how to brush teeth and taught locals the importance of proper hygiene.

“I think the people were very happy to see us here,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Traci Inniss, the senior petty officer for MWSS-274. “We brought them medicines they can’t afford or they don’t have the means to get because there is no local doctor.”

The long-term goal of CMEs is to give the Iraqi people a sustainable medical program of their own.

“We do not want the communities to become dependent on us because they will feel abandoned after we leave,” explained Williams. “We are assisting them in assisting themselves. We are teaching them to take care of their own so the Iraqis see their own people as a source of help.

“Like the saying goes, ‘If you give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime.’ We are doing just that,” added Williams.

The medical personnel plan several follow-up CME visits to the village in the future.

Monday, June 2, 2008

VMAQ-4 trains quick reaction forces of al-Asad

Cpl. Scott McAdam

AL-ASAD, Iraq (May 18, 2008) – More than 40 Marines and soldiers from various 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) units participated in a Quick Reaction Force Instructor Course hosted by Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 4 here May 11-17.

In case of an emergency, each flying squadron aboard Al Asad Air Base employs a quick reaction force to provide immediate security for their aircraft and personnel in an expedient manner.

Because each flying squadron aboard Al Asad Air Base has a quick reaction force, having instructors at each squadron passing on the skills and techniques taught at the course improves the security of each squadron and the air base as a whole, explained Lt. Col. Thomas A. Bruno, commanding officer, VMAQ-4.

Squadrons here requested quick reaction force instructors from VMAQ-4 to train their Marines. Instead of lending out instructors to multiple units, VMAQ-4 decided to host a week long instructor’s course, allowing other units the opportunity to acquire their own instructors, explained Staff Sgt. Barry M. Worley, chief instructor, VMAQ-4.

During the course, Marines and soldiers learned a myriad of techniques, from basic weapons handling and safety rules to room clearing, urban tactics, vehicle assaults and detainee handling.

“The Marines have different training than the Army,” said Army Spc. Gregory A. Strasser, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 214th Aviation Regiment. “We’re going to take that training and put it together with ours.”

According to Sgt. Matthew Clark, QRF instructor, VMAQ-4, a quick reaction forces’ role is to respond quickly to any incident that may occur within a squadron’s area of responsibility.

Quick reaction forces can be activated for a number of reasons; an intruder in a squadron, indirect fire or low visibility. When the QRF is activated, they are not only responsible for securing the headquarters element of the squadron, but also the hangars and planes, added Worley, a Lafayette, Ind., native.

Because the officers in flying squadrons spend most of their time in the air on missions, the quick reaction force falls on the shoulders of the enlisted Marines and soldiers explained Bruno a Philadelphia native.

“This (QRF) is run by staff noncommissioned officers and noncommissioned officers,” added Bruno. “This is gunnys, staff sergeants, sergeants and corporals running the show out there, not supervised by anybody but themselves.”

Worley foresees the students applying the skills learned at the course throughout their Marine Corps career.

The training received by the newly appointed instructors reinforces combat marksmanship and infantry tactics and can be a vital asset to any Marine outside the wire, added Worley.