OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea -- Powerline mechanics with Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 533, also known as the “Hawks,” maintain flight schedules and conduct maintenance and inspections on their F/A-18 Hornets during the Korean Marine Exchange Program 14-13, Oct. 13, 2014, on Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, to increase the Marine Aircraft Group 12’s combat readiness, operating skills as a Marine Air-Ground Task Force and enhance joint and combined integration with the U.S. Air Force and ROK Marine Corps.
The “Hawks” are stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S. C., but are part of the unit deployment program to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan, under MAG-12, 1st Marine Air Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
KMEP 14-13 is a multinational exercise that focuses on the integration of aviation and ground assets within the construct of a traditional Combined Arms Live Fire Exercise. Supporting units include, but are not limited to, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 12 and Marine Wing Support Squadron 171.
“My Marines launch, recover, fuel, service and inspect the aircraft to ensure the jet is safe to fly,” said Sgt. Pedro Vazquez, a powerliner supervisor with VMFA(AW)-533. “We make sure there aren’t any discrepancies and if there are, we let the other shops know that there’s something wrong with the jet and to fix it.”
Vazquez said all the shops within the squadron work together to complete their mission; however, they are one of the primary shops whose function is to ensure combat readiness.
“My Marines are getting unique training while participating in KMEP,” said Vazquez. “They’re used to working in garrison in Beaufort, where there is a routine schedule. It’s different out here. They’re catching and launching in a new area. Every day is something new and for those who have never been on a deployment before, the work tempo is definitely higher than what they’re used to.”
Vazquez said as new powerline Marines come to the squadron, one of the first things they aspire to be is a plane captain, a job with tremendous responsibility.
“The plane captain is in charge of the jet at all times,” said Lance Cpl. Bobby Tyler, a plane captain with VMFA(AW)-533. “Once the pilot starts the engine, all personnel on scene await orders from me via hand and arm signals.”
Tyler said catching a jet in the dark in an unfamiliar area is difficult, but he enjoys the opportunity to hone his job proficiency.
As KMEP 14-13 continues, Vazquez said the powerliners continue to take charge of the flight schedule, remaining on the flight line to ensure all standards are met and flights are successful.