MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- style="margin: 0in 0in 10pt;" abp="1766">“The KC-130J is invaluable to the Marine Corps,” said U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Justen L. Hagstrom, a KC-130J crewmaster trainee with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152. “We offer capabilities that range from aerial refueling, rapid transport of passengers and cargo, high and low altitude airdrops, and much more to keep our Marines in the fight.”
A crewmaster for a KC-130J is responsible for the critical placement of cargo on the 64-ton bird, ensuring readiness for flight, overseeing in-flight operations and being prepared to act as an emergency copilot.
“Aircrew’s daily mission revolves around learning and working towards becoming a qualified crewmember on the KC-130J aircraft,” said Hagstrom. “Always studying and learning the limitations, different mission procedures, characteristics of the aircraft and working towards that next code, qualification or designation is what makes us so proficient in what we do.”
Being aircrew requires more than the average military occupational specialty. Marines embrace the work ethic necessary to maintain a first-class physical fitness test and combat fitness test, maintain above an 85 percent throughout technical schools, perform annual check rides, and maintain accurate and current knowledge of the aircraft and its procedures.
“Our aircraft cannot just be flown by pilots alone,” said Hagstrom. “Crewmembers have to remain proficient and qualified to operate them to the best of their abilities.”
Hagstrom added that retaining knowledge is necessary to accomplishing a variety of missions that could be tasked upon crewmembers at any given time.
Aircrew Marines must be able to remain calm, think and act swiftly under pressure at any given moment in flight to ensure the safety of all personnel aboard the aircraft.
“Aviation comes with a lot of dangers, from rapid decompression of the aircraft to in-flight shutdown of our engines,” said Hagstrom. “We train and are prepared for these emergencies to ensure the best possible outcome.”
With the dangers of performing a significant role in the operations of a KC-130J, comes opportunities many people don’t get.
“The most rewarding part about being an aircrewman is being able to see and experience the world like very few people do,” said Hagstrom. “We get to meet various kinds of people from all walks of life. It keeps us humble and willing learn and strive to be better than we were yesterday.”