CHITOSE AIR BASE, Japan -- U.S. Marines with Marine Attack Squadron 542 are working through freezing temperatures to keep the squadron's AV-8B Harriers in the air during the Aviation Training Relocation Program at Chitose Air Base, Japan, Dec. 9, 2016.
During the ATR the Marines with the power line division for VMA-542 are the last ones to look at aircraft before flight and the first ones look at them upon arrival.
The ATR is a joint effort between the U.S. and Japanese government to increase operational readiness between the U.S. Marine Corps and the Japan Air Self Defense Force, improve interoperability and reduce noise concerns of aviation training on local communities by disseminating training locations throughout Japan.
“It’s important to ensure the safety of these aircraft before they launch,” said U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Justin Knopp, power line division chief for VMA-542. “We have to be meticulous in what we do to prevent any situation of a downed aircraft. We are looking for any functions and systems that aren’t working properly prior to flight.”
Knopp said it’s just another day of work, but it’s an additional fight to stay warm and work through the different procedures of the Japanese culture such as how to dispose of hazardous materials.
Throughout this ATR the power line Marines have ensured the safety of the aircraft through routine flight inspections, launching and recovering the aircraft.
“It’s a good feeling knowing that what we are doing has kept the Harriers in the air,” said U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Cody Setere, power line mechanic for VMA-542. “It’s my job, it’s what I signed up to do and I will continue ensuring just that.”
VMA-542, home based out of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, currently forward deployed to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, will support the Aviation Training Relocation Program as they continue to safeguard flight operations over the next week.
“My Marines have been hitting it out of the park during this ATR,” said Knopp. “They’re always where they need to be when they need to be there and I couldn’t be happier with the way they are performing. I know they will keep doing what they have to until it’s time to go home and get back to work there.”