AL ASAD, Iraq -- The Marine Corps has always held high standards, in everything from appearance to work. Most Marines strive to meet these standards and achieving them takes time and discipline. One of those Marine is deployed here as a collateral duty inspector for the bomb rack and missile launcher shop at the Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 29 ordnance section.
Sgt. Aurora G. Rios, an ordnance technician by trade, is currently deployed as an individual augment from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit to work as a CDI.
Rios inspects, maintains, and repairs the bomb racks and missile launchers that attach to rotary and fixed wing aircraft allowing them to carry and expend ordnance. Her main goal at MALS-29 ordnance is to maintain her shop’s ability to provide working racks and launchers to the squadrons and aircraft.
“She works at one of the highest standards I’ve ever come across in the Marine Corps,” said Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Bates, the MALS-29 ordnance production control chief.
When squadrons need a bomb rack or missile launcher repaired such as the M272 Hellfire Missile Launcher, they turn the equipment into the MALS bomb rack and missile launcher shop. Rios leads her Marines as they inspect and repair the gear.
“We test and inspect the bomb racks and missile launchers and repair any discrepancies we find,” said Rios, a Salem, Ore., native. “We are responsible for the scheduled maintenance at the intermediate level of ordnance, which is MALS. The next level down of organization level is the individual squadron.”
Rios maintains a high tempo in the workplace because of her positive attitude and her Marines. She works hard to ensure that her Marines are kept busy at work and constantly learning.
“I've always had a positive attitude,” said Rios. “That's one of my strengths. I've been able to maintain work ethics and high standards because of the Marines. I strive to be someone my Marines can look up to, whether it's personally or professionally.”
Although Rios is an experienced leader of Marines now, it was not always so. Before she joined the Marine Corps, she lacked discipline and direction with her life. She wanted to serve in the military but didn’t know which service to choose.
“Since I was young, I wanted to join the military,” she said. “Early on, I thought it would be the Army. Right out of high school, I went to a community college near home, but I wasn't ready. I needed some discipline and some direction in my life. Ryan Clapp, one of my best friends from high school, joined the Marine Corps. When I talked to him, he put the Marine Corps on a pedestal and said how awesome he felt to be part of it. He's specifically the reason I chose the Marine Corps.”
Rios has spent her career as an ordnance technician, but before joining she was unsure of what her job in the Corps would be.
“I thought and told my family I was going to be a firefighter,” said Rios. “I reached school in Pensacola, Fla., and realized that my job in the Marine Corps was actually ordnance.”
Through her six years in the Marine Corps, Rios has become a leader by learning from many leadership styles. She has been stationed on the East Coast, West Coast, and overseas, working on both rotary and fixed wing aircraft throughout her career.
At her first command, MALS-14, she worked on fixed wing aircraft and learned how to work hard and follow orders as a junior Marine, said Rios. At her second duty station with MALS-12 in Iwakuni, Japan, she learned how to manage her time and decided to re-enlist. While working at her current duty station, Camp Pendleton, Calif., she was moved from shop to shop, which taught her about mission accomplishment. At MALS-39 Rios worked on rotary wing aircraft for the first time. Now, at MALS-29, she has earned experience running a work center.
Her favorite command to date was MALS-12 from Iwakuni.
“The command was good, they were very ‘Oorah!’ and by-the-book. That is where I learned how to properly drill and conduct physical training,” she said. “When given the opportunity, I share what I've learned with whoever will listen or who cares to know.”
Now that Rios has had time to reflect on her career she has considered the pros and cons of her field.
“The Marine Corps in itself is a family, but ordnance is a tighter group inside that family,” said Rios. “I love being part of a family like this.”