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AL ASAD, Iraq ? Corporal Thomas A. Baroody, Marine Light/Attack Helicopter Squadron 269 helicopter mechanic and plane captain from Bath, N.Y., inspects and cleans the transmission on an AH-1W Super Cobra during daily and turnaround inspections July 20. The mechanics have been conducting an average of four to five daily and turnaround inspections per day since arriving here to support Operation Iraqi Freedom.


Flightline Marines keep Gunrunner helos rocking steady

28 Jul 2005 | Sgt. Juan Vara

Every flying squadron, whether it has helicopters or jets, is composed of several sections instrumental in its ability to get the job done.  One such section is flightline, often thought of as a squadron’s backbone.

Here since February, Marine Light/Attack Helicopter Squadron 269 is a squadron with two types of aircraft in its inventory.  Throughout their stay here the unit has been standing tall, using its AH-1W Super Cobras and UH-1N Hueys in support of the mission of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward).

Part of the squadron’s success is attributed to the work the Marines in the flightline section perform to have the aircraft ready to rock when it’s time to execute a mission.  Most of the major maintenance on the aircraft is conducted by flightline Marines.

“Flightline is one of the vital arteries in the squadron,” said Staff Sgt. Jason Snyder, staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the section and native of Deer Park, N.Y.  “As with any other work center, the squadron wouldn’t be able to work without us.”

The flightline Marines are responsible for repairing and maintaining engines, gearboxes, flight controls, main rotor and tail rotor blades, and conducting daily and turnaround inspections, after which they certify the aircraft.  These inspections are not child’s play; overlooking any small problem could cost service members’ lives.

The Marines have been conducting an average of four to five daily and turnaround inspections per day.  According to Snyder, the Marines conduct one or two sets of inspections a day when they’re back in Marine Corps Air Station, New River, N.C., their home base.

“We’re the last ones who look at the aircraft before it goes out and flies,” said Cpl. Thomas A. Baroody, helicopter mechanic and plane captain.  “The pilots do pre-flight inspections to make sure there’s nothing wrong and nothing was overlooked.”

Corporal Justin J. Gasparik, a helicopter mechanic and plane captain from Middletown, N.J., said that after they’re done inspecting the aircraft they take all checklists and other paperwork to the maintenance control section where other Marines go over it to ensure everything is in order.

Spread out through two 12-hour shifts and working every day regardless of weather conditions, the flightline Marines keep the aircraft running and help keep it clean by wiping it down as they conduct the inspections.

“The helicopter has our name on the side and it’s a reflection of us,” said Baroody, a Bath, N.Y., native.  “We treat it as our baby and we take care of it.”

Lance Cpl. Robert A. Wisely, a Huey crew chief from Austin, Texas, said keeping the aircraft running and keeping it clean are not the only things Marines in the section do.  Some of the crew chiefs, aerial observers and aerial gunners in the squadron are assigned to the flightline section and all of them are trained to effectively employ three different weapon systems on enemy targets.

Whenever any of the aircrew Marines are not on the flight schedule they’re out keeping the aircraft ready to fight.

“Whether it is a [medical evacuation], escorting other aircraft, supporting troops in contact or providing route reconnaissance so the troops can move around without running into any enemies, the aircraft is critical and needs to be inspected,” said Snyder.  “These guys are out on the flightline all day and their motivation is knowing they can provide combat-ready aircraft for the troops on the ground.”

Working tirelessly around the clock, even in triple-digit temperatures, the Marines in the flightline section of HML/A-269 know how important their job is and spare no effort in getting it done and doing it right.  Their daily contributions in the squadron translate into major accomplishments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the Global War on Terrorism.

- For more information about the Marines reported on in this story, please contact Sgt. Juan Vara by e-mail at -