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Photo by Cpl. Rocco DeFilippis

Sand Sharks bite into mileage

30 May 2005 | Cpl. Rocco DeFilippis

The role of the Marine Wing Support Squadron is to help keep the aircraft of the wing in fighting form, so they, in turn, can advance the Marines on the ground.

The Marine Wing Support Squadron 371 detachment here, known as the Sand Sharks, has taken their role one-step further — providing assistance to the 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion’s logistical support convoys.

The Marines of MWSS-371 benefit Marines at remote operating posts along the Syrian and Jordanian borders, by helping bring supplies, providing mechanical expertise, and convoy security.

“The [LAR] battalion initially asked us for a few drivers,” said Staff Sgt. Kenneth R. Martinez, detachment staff noncommissioned officer in charge and native of Manassa, Colo. “Our main mission is air and ground support, but because of the need, and the fact that we had the training and the Marines, we decided to help out as best we could.”

Since their arrival here in early February, the Marines of MWSS-371 have been bringing water, food, mechanical aid, and engineer equipment assistance to the Marines who man remote border forts and check points.

With more than 14,000 miles under their belt, they have brought new meaning to air and ground support.

“Being in the wing, our main responsibility is to [serve] the ground forces,” said Lance Cpl. Donald R. Petty, electrical equipment repair specialist and native of Maple Heights, Ohio. “They don’t have the personnel or equipment to fix things, so we help them out as much as we can.”

The mechanics and heavy equipment operators of the squadron nourish the border forts by providing hygiene, electrical and refrigerator support. Their engineers have built shower facilities, constructed and reinforced fighting and security positions, and helped improve the living conditions of the infantry Marines along the borders.

“We are more than willing to help out,” Petty said. “If there is a job out there, we are going to it. What we do allows the Marines out there to live easier and focus on their mission.”

“We have a pool of 24 different military occupational specialties,” said Lance Cpl. Alex S. Tierney, nuclear, biological and chemical specialist and native of San Ramon, Calif. “We are using everyone to not only [sustain] the airfield here, but ground operations along the borders.”

The Marines also brace the 2nd LAR convoys by providing much needed extra security and drivers.

“We trained for this mission a lot before we came out here,” said Lance Cpl. Samuel R. Villa, motor transportation operator and native of New Braunfels, Texas. “The more eyes on the road, the safer it is for the entire convoy.”

Although convoys are not a traditional role for a wing support squadron, the Sand Sharks of ‘371 tackle their mission with enthusiasm and dedication.

“They all have extremely good work ethics and positive attitudes,” Martinez said. “They want to be out there, they want to [reinforce] their fellow Marines.”

“The whole point is to support the Marines on the ground,” Tierney said. “We are doing that by supporting air operations here and getting out on the roads and supporting them directly. It’s a great opportunity for us, and it feels good to do our part.”

*For more information about the Marines or news reported on in this story, please contact Cpl. Rocco DeFilippis by e-mail at defilippisrc@acemnf-wiraq.usmc.mil*

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