Photo Information

AL ASAD, Iraq - Corporal Eric Hilker, a loadmaster with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252 and Ithaca, N.Y., native, directs a vehicle onto the KC-130J here July 28. The KC-130J is used to transport cargo and passengers throughout Iraq, along with mid-air refueling.

Photo by Cpl. C. Alex Herron

‘Otis’ provides logistics support for Marines in Iraq

30 Jul 2005 | Cpl. C. Alex Herron

The Marines of Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252 are known for their ability to refuel aircraft and extend the time fighter jets and some helicopters can stay in the fight.  But that is not their only mission.

Almost nightly, the squadron provides vital logistic support to Marines throughout Iraq. From shipping cargo to helping Marines move from base to base, the squadron keeps busy in this general support role.

“Having us providing logistical support meets the lift requirement for the Marine Expeditionary Force and alleviates the reliance on using Air Force lift,” said Maj. Jeff Moses, the operation officer with VMGR-252 and Birmingham, Ala., native. “We help reduce convoy operations by moving Marines and gear through the air. This reduces their time exposed outside our bases. Using KC-130s just simply increases the lift capability of the Marine Aircraft Group with our capability to carry heavier and larger cargo over extended ranges.”

The pilots are experts in every meaning of the word, from using different types of intelligence to plan their flight to understanding how to maneuver through, and entering and exiting the different airfields throughout Iraq.  But success does not rely on pilots alone. 

The loadmasters have to plan for the different types of cargo being moved.  They are the ones who do everything from getting chains ready to secure vehicles to putting seats down for passengers. 

“These are the missions where the loadmasters earn their keep,” Moses said. “We get a lot of different types of cargo from rolling stock to palletized cargo to passengers. All the different types of cargo require us to use a variety of ways to set up the interior of the aircraft.”

Working together the aircrew has to plan for each leg of their mission to ensure they spend as little time as possible on the ground and can get personnel and freight to their destination quickly.

On July 28, the KC-130J Hercules squadron executed just such a mission.  The loadmasters planned how to move three humvees, a civilian explosive ordnance truck and multiple pallets of cargo while carrying passengers to destinations throughout Iraq.

“Having to adjust the configuration of the aircraft can become a hassle throughout the mission, but it is all in a day’s work,” said Sgt. Adrian Reenshuler, a loadmaster and Tucson, Ariz., native. “Getting people and gear from place to place is what we do. Making sure everything gets to its destination safely is what we are all about.”

“We fly in every part of Iraq,” Moses said. “Because of that we have to work closely with other services to accomplish our mission.”

At the end of this mission the ‘Otis’ team had delivered more than 65,000 pounds of cargo while carrying 50 passengers to their destination. After another successful flight it is obvious that the squadron puts a lot of effort into getting cargo to the Marines who need it most. With ‘Otis’ flying high, Marines can rest assured that the gear they need to accomplish their mission will arrive when needed to ensure the success of coalition forces throughout Iraq.

*For more information about this article please contact Cpl. Alex Herron at*