MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
The mission of Marine Wing Support Squadron 274 is simple – to provide Aviation Ground Support to Marine Aircraft Group 29, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing. This mission is the core reason behind MWSS-274’s field exercise aboard Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field Bogue, N.C., on March 3-17.
Marines assigned to MWSS-274, known as the Ironmen, also utilized Marine Corps Outlying Field Atlantic for portions of the exercise to integrate the multiple Military Occupational Specialties within the squadron.
“Twice a year we bring the squadron to the field to really take the time for them to train together,” said Lt. Col. Taylor White, the commanding officer of MWSS-274. “There are about 80 MOS’s in the Marine Wing Support Squadron. We are one of the most diverse units in the Marine Corps, but we aren’t really a team unless we practice and train together as a team.”
Midway through the field exercise, MAG-29 joined the Ironmen to perform a MAG exercise in conjunction with MWSS-274’s field exercise to make for over 500 Marines involved in the training.
“We’re a part of the Aviation Combat Element,” said White. “We have to be able to plan with the pilots. Bogue is our air facility, this is where MAG-29 is operating out of and we are extending their reach.”
One way MWSS-274 extended MAG-29’s reach is with the Forward Arming and Refueling Point at Atlantic field. The FARP allowed MAG-29 squadron aircraft to partake in refueling training to extend their time on station.
“Help isn’t just a phone call away,” said Maj. Brandon Brown, the detachment officer in charge with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron-167. “You actually have to rely on each other and the support network. It builds that relationship between the two of us so we can operate in areas such as foreign countries when our nation so calls.”
The Ironmen provided utilities and basic necessities to MAG-29 squadrons that allowed them to complete their missions.
“We come in, we set up the tents, showers and laundry facilities,” said Sgt. Richard Sasamoto an engineer specialist with MWSS-274. “Pretty much everything these pilots or anyone operating around the vicinity will need. We provide the life support.”
Marines took the opportunity to build relationships with each other while building the air facility.
“You network with these other units, see their faces and cross-train with them,” said Sasamoto. “You get to see how all these MOS’s intermingle with each other and it allows you to have a better concept of how everything is supposed to work. It allows me to do my job better because I know how it affects somebody else.”
During the exercise, Marines battled through freezing temperatures, inclement weather and challenging conditions to assist MAG-29 however they could.
“MWSS-274 brings the ground element to the wing utilizing the utilities platoon, combat engineers, motor transport, and bulk fuelers,” said Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Stanek, the utilities platoon leader with MWSS-274. “When we come to the field we get to flex our muscles a little bit and show the squadron and hopefully the rest of the Marine Corps what the utilities platoon’s capabilities are and what they bring to the fight as far as our supporting the main effort of the AGS.”
At the conclusion of the exercise, MWSS-274 hosted a warrior meal to allow the Marines to relax before heading home as a gesture of appreciation by MWSS-274 senior leadership.
“My best experience from this field exercise is watching my Marines grow, watching my individual leaders lead their teams and set up all the life support areas,” said Stanek. “I can’t say enough about my guys, I am damn proud of them.”