AL TAQADDUM, Iraq -- Rotor blades cutting through the air and the sound of turbine engines can be heard here throughout the day. The pitch emitted by individual aircraft allows seasoned Marines to identify each aircraft from a distance often before visual contact. The distinctive sound of these helicopters is welcomed by Marines on the ground who readily rely on the 2d Marine Aircraft Wing for transportation and medical evacuation support.
Keeping these aircraft in the air and in a high state of readiness is the responsibility of the squadron’s that own the aircraft. Keeping the maintainers supplied with the materials and supplies necessary to fix the aircraft is a mission of Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 29, Detachment A.
“We provide logistics support to the flying squadrons out here. If they need parts they will bring them to us and we will either order the parts or repair them,” explained Gunnery Sgt. Dan Murphy, detachment chief for MALS-29, Detachment A.
Whether it is a maintenance issue, a supply issue or an ordnance issue these Marines know how to get the job done. This unit houses every military occupational specialty from aviation ground equipment mechanics, airframe and power plant mechanics to ordnance Marines allowing MALS to provide a higher level of maintenance than the flying squadrons.
“The flying squadrons can provide organizational level maintenance, we provide what is called intermediate level maintenance and if we can’t fix the part we send it to depot level maintenance,” said Murphy.
However, being located away from the main body of the squadron limits the capabilities the detachment can provide the flying squadrons on Al Taqaddam.
“Our capabilities out here are not what they are in Al Asad, as far as gear coming in, we have a few (Cobras and Hueys) as well as 46’s, but most of our projects come from repairing tools for the contractors or the things the squadron needs fixed,” stated Cpl. German PliegoFlores, airframe mechanic and aviation welder.
These Marines have heavy mission to bear as the flying squadrons of Al Taqaddum provide the casualty evacuation missions for Western Iraq.
“When I am working and that siren goes off it makes feel good knowing that those Marines out there are making a difference, which makes me want to work harder to accomplish my mission so that they can accomplish theirs,” said PliegoFlores, (needs hometown).
The Marines of the MALS Det. also provide maintenance on all of the flight line gear from the vehicles that tow the birds to items that work on electric power and hydraulic power.
These Marines are capable of fixing anything, they have even brought items from the junkyard and repaired them to provide them with easier movement around the flight line, according to Sgt. Daniel Jagears, (needs hometown) aviation support equipment mechanic with MALS-29 Det. A.
The Marines of MALS-29 Det A realize the difference they are making out here as well.
“Knowing that the equipment we fix supports the birds that fly the CASEVAC missions makes me feel a lot better about my job, because out here it feels like we are really making a difference. Back in Okinawa you really didn’t feel that because all we ever flew was training missions all day, everyday, said Jagears.
For the Marines of MALS-29 Det. A, this deployment will not end back in the United States; the majority of their people will report back to Okinawa to finish an overseas tour.