AL ASAD, Iraq -- Aspiring to join the officer ranks, and with the MV-22 Osprey in mind, Staff Sgt. Roger W. King re-enlisted here March 11.
A helicopter mechanic assigned to Marine Light/Attack Helicopter Squadron 269, currently in Iraq supporting the mission of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) during Operation Iraqi Freedom, King has served in the Corps for eight years and re-enlisted for four years and 11 months more.
Once the Gravette, Ark., native completes his tour here he'll report to the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training at Marine Corps Air Station, New River, N.C., to become an MV-22 flightline mechanic. In his upcoming job King will work on several of the Osprey's components, such as flight controls, engines, rotors and fuel systems.
"I think it's a great move for a Marine who has been in the aviation field for some time to make a lateral move to become an Osprey mechanic," said Sgt. Rodrigo A. DiazColoma, HML/A-269 career retention specialist and Bay Shore, N.Y., native. "He has a lot of experience fixing aircraft and this benefits the Marine Corps and the Osprey program."
The Osprey will be the fourth type of aircraft King has worked on since joining the Corps in 1997. Before working on the UH-1N Huey and AH-1W Super Cobra, he was a CH-46E Sea Knight mechanic assigned to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 365 at MCAS New River.
In June 2002, King joined the "Gunrunners" of HML/A-269, where he trained for five months to become a Huey and Super Cobra mechanic. When he reported to the Naval Air Maintenance Training Marine Unit, Camp Pendleton, Calif., for proper training, he completed all tests and received all certifications in just two days.
"My grandfather was a door gunner in Vietnam, so I always wanted to make my way over to the Hueys and Cobras," said King. "I've done it and I want to move on to see what the Marine Corps can do for me or what I can do for it."
King said he wants to spend a few years in his new job and submit the paperwork to be considered for appointment to warrant officer. A warrant officer is a technical officer specialist who performs duties that require extensive knowledge, training and experience with particular systems or equipment.
"If the Corps doesn't see fit to promote me to warrant officer then I'll keep marching on as far as I can in the enlisted side," King said.
Diaz said King's decision to re-enlist and become an Osprey mechanic will have a ripple effect among other aircraft mechanics and will increase the retention of experienced maintainers.
"The Marine Corps is transitioning to the Osprey and the future leaders of our Corps should move in that direction," he said. "Why would anyone not make this move to better their career? There are other Marines who want a new challenge, and by seeing Staff Sergeant King re-enlist and make this lateral move they'll raise their voice and make the move as well. All it takes is one Marine to "lat-move' first."
King may not be the first Marine to make this career move, but by re-enlisting here he's pocketing a tax-free bonus of more than $12,000 and by making the lateral move he's increasing the chances of reaching his goal to become an officer.
"The Marine Corps only helps those who help themselves," he said. "If you're not goal oriented and set goals for yourself then you're just sitting on the sidelines."