Crew chiefs master their skills at Kodiak Mace

by Cpl. Cory Schubert
U.S. Marine Corps

JOINT-BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- U.S. Marines with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152 improved their technical skills as crew chiefs while operating aboard the KC-130J Hercules at Joint-Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, during Exercise Kodiak Mace, May 23-27, 2016.

Exercise Kodiak Mace is an annual event designed for Marines to grow their technical skills, operate in a unique environment and qualify in certifications that may not be accessible to their original station.

Homebased from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, VMGR-152 crew chiefs in-training learn the skill sets required to qualify for this title and gain credibility through participating in these exercises.

Crew chiefs are some of the key personnel essential to the operation of the KC-130J. These individuals are responsible for the well-being of the aircraft at all times and must maintain constant situational awareness in order to assist the pilots as they have minimal visual capabilities.

During the course of their training, these Marines must learn, practice, and study in order to successfully earn their qualifications, and claim the title ‘crew chief’. Training includes observation drills to monitor obstructions and lookout for incoming threats. This is a crucial part of the trade since pilots have a limited view from the aircraft’s cockpit.

“The purpose of the training here is because the quality of drills are much different than the drills we can perform in Japan,” said Lance Cpl. Juan Gulinao , a VMGR-152 crew chief in-training. “We’re capable of doing threat reaction operations, and most of the crew members receive a lot of practice that we can’t get back home.”

Having the additional space in Alaska to perform combat maneuvers assists the crew chiefs in developing heightened senses while working alongside their pilots. This gives them firsthand experience and qualifies them on portions of their training as they come closer to earning this title.

Kodiak Mace is an essential exercise that matures the aircrew’s careers and gives Marines a chance to achieve their professional goals.  

“It’s vital that we train here because Alaska provides a lot of training areas that Iwakuni can’t,” said Capt. Michael Yim, a KC-130J pilot for VMGR-152. “Alaska gives us a lot more equipment, environments and air space to accomplish our training needs as a squadron. This is good for all of us, and it keeps all of the Marines trained and ready for whatever the circumstance is.”

The Marines trained around the clock learning new techniques and tools for their job with the ultimate goal of earning their codes, and eventually their wings.

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