AL ASAD, Iraq -- The arrival and departure airfield control group here is similar to a small international airport. It’s the place where many are introduced to the region where they’ll spend months supporting the war and also the last place in Iraq they see as they make their way home.
Dozens of personnel, sometimes hundreds, pass through the terminal on a daily basis and there are always Marines ready to help and point anyone in the right direction if anybody has questions.
Lance Cpl. Jesus M. Haro is one of them. A 2002 graduate of Brackenridge High School in his native San Antonio, Haro is on his first deployment to Iraq, reinforcing Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 2, from Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, N.C.
His duties as an embarkation and logistics specialist include keeping track of incoming and outgoing flights, tracking down how many passengers are in the aircraft, briefing those newly arrived to Al Asad on what they can and cannot to do while living here and assisting those continuing travel.
He also helps units move cargo in wide-body aircraft, sets up customs inspections for personnel returning to the United States and briefs returning personnel on the details of their trip home.
Though his individual efforts assist in making things run smooth in one of the busiest arrival and departure airfield control groups in Iraq, he said it’s the combined efforts of all the Marines there what truly makes a difference.
“All the Marines here work as a team,” said Haro. “Everyone knows each other’s job and we all help each other out. Out of all of the things we do our main focus is to get people back to the States.”
Haro’s original unit is the headquarters squadron of Marine Aircraft Group 29, based at MCAS New River, N.C. Prior to getting there he served for a year in Okinawa, Japan.
The experienced gained at his previous commands, working with ground units and helicopter squadrons, pays great dividends here as he uses it to ensure cargo and personnel reach their final destination.
While in Okinawa he learned about logistics, dealing mostly with motor transport issues and correspondence such as requests for ammunition and Meals-Ready-to-Eat. At MAG-29 he learned about embarkation and tracking cargo, helping the several squadrons in the group move their gear as they deploy. “It’s pretty much evened out so far,” he said. “I haven’t had any problems with anything.”
Hungry for more knowledge, Haro has been learning as much as he can to make himself more proficient at his job.
“I’ve been learning how to operate under the strict guidelines of working in a combat environment and about load plans and the capabilities of the different types of aircraft we deal with,” he said. “I’m also learning a little about a program used by the Air Force to track flights.”
The workload fluctuates as units come and go but there’s always work to be done at the terminal. Haro is there every day, and even when he’s not on the travelers’ good sides, he keeps his cool and continues to help out to the best of his ability.
“People get mad at us sometime because their flight is delayed,” he said. “I simply tell them to come back the next day, be on time and be happy that at least they’re going home and nothing bad happened to them.”
- For more information about the Marine reported on in this story, please contact Sgt. Juan Vara by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org -