NAVAL AIR STATION JOINT RESERVE BASE FORT WORTH, TEXAS --
Thirteen years ago, 23-year-old Joshua Perkins was looking to change his life. After high school, he spent five years working as an automobile mechanic and became accustomed to it. Then, he found the Marine Corps.
“I was 23 years old, and I was trying to figure out where I was going with my life,” said U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Joshua Perkins, a CH-53E Super Stallion crew chief with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 366. “I just decided one day, ‘You know what? I think I’m going to give the Marine Corps a shot.’ I walked into the recruiter’s office and decided that was what I was going to do. Then, right after my first deployment, I realized that this was a career move for me, and that I plan on doing my full 20 years. I just absolutely love what I do.”
Perkins’ time as a crew chief taught him how to lead Marines and pass on knowledge essential to the job. He believes the role of a crew chief is crucial to the success of heavy-lift helicopter operations.
“My job contributes to a big part of the mission accomplishment,” said Perkins. “We move personnel, cargo and external loads out to the forward-line Marines for them to be able to conduct their mission.”
Crew chiefs are in charge of understanding their aircraft from nose to tail, using their knowledge and experience to maintain operational readiness. Additionally, their responsibilities range from operating weapons systems and aiding pilots during flights to washing engines and repairing rotors.
HMH-366 deployed to Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas, July 7-18, to prepare for an upcoming deployment. The squadron was forced to adapt to unfamiliar environments because temperatures reached over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Perkins applied his experience from two combat deployments in Afghanistan to his day-to-day duties in the Texas heat.
“A lot of the lessons I learned over there were on the environmental side of things,” Perkins said. “Flying in hot weather, high dust, long nights, long days, along with the tactics that we ran over there. I’m bringing that here and training it to teach Marines about why we do what we do, and how we do it, to mitigate our risks.”
The Marine Corps introduced the CH-53K King Stallion, the newest heavy-lift helicopter, and 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing received its first CH-53K in January 2022. The CH-53K has three times the lift capability of its predecessor, the CH-53E Super Stallion. Perkins plans on transitioning to the King Stallion for the rest of his career.
“The change will affect me by having to learn a new type of aircraft,” he said with a determined mindset. “Whether it be fixing it, or flying in the back of it. Just like everything else in the Marine Corps, improvise, adapt and overcome.”