AL ASAD, Iraq --
Behind every Marine Corps unit there are support Marines ready to provide their fellow service members with anything they need. Anything from supply to administration, there are Marines behind the scenes supporting their brothers on the frontlines. In Al Qaim, there is a group of Marines dedicated to running the Forward Arming and Refueling Point.
Those support Marines are the detachment of Marine Wing Support Squadron 271 dedicated to assisting passengers and providing helicopters with the necessities.
“Our basic mission here is to support the aircraft and the airfield itself, with anything from fuel to firefighting capabilities,” explained Gunnery Sgt. Dale R. Lubes, the Al Qaim FARP, MWSS-271 staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge. “I have a total of seven detachments out here to support the aircraft.”
The most important roles for the MWSS-271 Marines are running the arrival and departure airfield control group, where they ensure that cargo and personnel are loaded and offloaded, and the fuels section.
“I also have heavy equipment operators loading and offloading aircraft,” said Lubes. “We have (Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting) in case of an emergency. We have a motor transportation section that performs maintenance on all of our vehicles. We have a two-man detachment of EOD, their primary mission is if there are any problems with ordnance on an aircraft or anything else in that regards.”
There is also a detachment of engineers that do repair work on the SWA huts or if necessary build additional buildings.
“What we do out here is build buildings and make the quality of life for Marines out here better,” said Sgt. Russell Bridges, a combat engineer with MWSS-271. “We went outside to a post and built a meeting place for them out there. This is something that we have done to help the war.’
The Marines believe they have provided consistent support and hope to continue the success.
“As a whole we have done outstanding work, you couldn’t have a better FARP,” said Bridges. “We are always called, we always have to build, (heavy equipment) always has to move something, the power goes out so the utilities guys are always busy. We are the hardest working section here.”
The MWSS-271 Marines understand that their performance affects the Marines on the ground and the personnel flying in and out.
“Al Qaim is the central hub of the northwest area of Iraq, we support a number of (Forward Operating Bases) from this base right here,” said Lubes. “So Marines will get flown in here and spend the night, then convoy out to the FOB.”
The Marines, who have spent the last six and a half months at Al Qaim and are soon leaving, have performed well, according to Lubes.
“The Marines have been outstanding, there work ethic is phenomenal,” said Lubes. “The work that we are doing in this area is great; the city of Al Qaim has improved tenfold since we’ve been here. We have a great working relationship with (1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment). This has actually been one of my best deployments.”