MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Marines with Marine Wing Support Squadron 171, Marine Aircraft Group 12, prepare for Exercise Forager Fury II, beginning with staging and loading of approximately 260 units of heavy equipment, vehicles and other items to be used during the exercise at the Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, harbor, Oct. 21-25, 2013.
With Exercise FFII slated to begin Nov. 4, 2013, MWSS-171, MAG-12, is preparing to repair several of the World War II airfields on the island of Tinian as well as various community relations projects, and simulated air-to-air and air-to-ground combat flight training.
“We are loading this vessel full of cargo that is going to Tinian in support of Exercise Forager Fury II,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Steven M. Taynton, a mobility officer with MWSS-171, MAG-12. “We are putting more than 200 pieces on the ship, and then it will pick up about another 50 in Okinawa before actually setting sail to Tinian. This ship is a ‘lift on lift off’ vessel, meaning the only way to load equipment is via the cranes attached to the ship. So, you have these massive 7-tons and bulldozers flying through the air to be loaded.”
A few days before the vessel arrived, MWSS-171 already staged the equipment for the exercise at the harbor’s entrance.
“This crew has been working almost all week beside the Japanese contractors, prepping the vehicles and equipment for transport and supervising the loading process,” said Taynton. “We have been pulling about 10-12 hour days and it took about another two days to stage all the gear in the area near the harbor. So far, the loading process is going smoothly, everyone is conducting themselves professionally and we have not had to stop the loading process for any reason.”
With the help of Japanese contractors, Marines of MWSS-171 have been able to keep a steady, continuous pace loading the ship.
“We have a really good workflow going on,” said Cpl. Devon David, an embarkation specialist with MWSS-171, MAG-12. “The loading has been moving kind of slow due to the fact that there are only two cranes, but even though it’s been raining, we are still on track.”
Preparation for loading did not happen overnight; several days went into the preparation phase.
“We found out on Friday that the ship was coming in on Wednesday so we started moving all the gear on Monday,” said David. “The Japanese contractors are in charge of loading the ship and we have been here making sure the gear is taken care of as well as staging the equipment near the boat.”
With the completion of the load, the vessel is prepared to make its way to Okinawa before its final stop on Tinian. While loading a vessel may be considered routine to some, the equipment in tow is directed toward historical initiatives.