KORAT, ROYAL THAI AIR FORCE BASE, Thailand --
In support of Exercise Gobra Gold 2011, Sgt. Maj. Eric J. Seward, sergeant major of 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, loaded live highly explosive ordnance onto an F/A-18 Hornet with some major help from Marine All-Weather Attack Squadron 242 ordnance here Feb. 16.
Cobra Gold is a regularly scheduled exercise that demonstrates joint and multinational capapabilities and improves interoperability between the U.S. and Thailand.
The joint/combined exercise is designed to ensure regional peace and strengthen the ability of the Royal Thai Armed Forces.
In sweaty coveralls, grease-stained boots and dirty hands, VMFA(AW)-242 aviation ordnance technicians ran up and down the flight line loading and launching jets with ordance.
In one average work day, one ordnance shop loaded approximately 8,500 pounds of ordnance.
That average day consisted of showing up for work at 4:15 a.m. and having all bombs loaded and ready by approximately 9 a.m.
“These aircraft mean nothing without this ordnance,” said Seward. “When the enemy sees bombs attatched, that’s when they start running.”
VMFA(AW)-242 aviation ordnance technicians provide their squadron with all ordnance and equipment needed, while also maintaining, repairing, and regularly inspecting bomb racks, gun systems and missile launchers.
“What we do directly saves the lives of troops on the ground,” said Lance Cpl. Joseph Lewis, a VMFA(AW)-242 aviation ordnance technician.
The ordnance shop works around the clock to ensure all ordnance requests are processed immediately and delivered as fast and safely as possible.
They do this by ensuring that all electronic ordnance systems are checked to make sure they are operational and functioning properly before any ordnance can be loaded onto the aircraft.
After bombs are loaded, ordnance Marines double-check to make sure they will work when the time comes to use them. Doublechecking is performed during every operation, whether it is in training or deployment.
While many of the bombs that are loaded during the exercise are inert, every piece of ordnance is treated with the same amount of caution, whether explosive or not.
Most importantly, ordnance Marines do everything as a team.
“We honestly wouldn’t be able to accomplish the mission if we didn’t work together,” said Lance Cpl. Chandler Mesa, a VMFA(AW)-242 aviation ordnance technician.
Not only do they do everything as a team at work, they also stick together, through and through, outside of work.
“We work so hard,” said Lance Cpl. Kendall Coates, a VMFA(AW)-242 aviation ordnance technician. “We go through the good and the bad together, so we really are like a family.”
Without these Marines, who work hard and play hard together, Marine aircraft traveling into enemy territory and flying overhead would be useless without bombs attatched.