MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Marines from Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152 at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, attended familiarization training on airdrop kits Jan. 26, 2016.
Using an airdrop kit, open discussion and hands-on learning, Sgt. Chris McClellan, KC-130J Super Hercules crew master with VMGR-152, educated a handful of crew masters and Marines in training.
“These Marines don’t always get the opportunity to attend airdrop school right away, but this is important knowledge if they are going to work inside an aircraft,” said McClellan. “Many Marines finish their qualifications upstairs and then lose momentum when they move down here. I’m trying to mitigate that gap.”
Airdrop kits hold equipment needed to effectively and safely conduct an air drop out of a KC-130J Super Hercules. This hands-on training helped refresh and explain nomenclature and uses of each piece of equipment in the kit to the crew masters and students.
“This is the real experience,” said McClellan. “Everything we do is real mission, not necessarily training. I utilize these missions to train new Marines while completing the mission goals.”
McClellan believes these informal training sessions help Marines retain much more information because they get the chance to physically handle and visualize the equipment outside the classroom and ask questions without fear of formalities.
Cpl. Tyler Eickenhorst, crew master with VMGR-152, said this is his first day being incorporated with crew masters since receiving qualifications needed to work on KC-130’s.
“The student shop upstairs is where we learn the basics about our job, maintenance publications, and Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardizations,” said Eickenhorst. “After getting qualified, we get the opportunity for more technical training from seasoned crew masters.”
Crew masters are the Marines in the back of the plane that take care of in-flight maintenance and systems. Once a crew master becomes airdrop qualified they are in charge of the airdrop process as well as air refueling, threat reaction, night vision and tactical navigation.
“Airdrop really is a fun job,” said McClellan. “Our teachers always told us in elementary school that no one is going to pay you to look out a window, but as airdrop where very few are qualified to work in the back of the plane, it really is like sitting on a patio, fresh air in your face and a pretty decent view. Plus, it’s always fun to see stuff depart the aircraft.”
McClellan added that he hopes the on-the-job training gives the Marines the experience and understanding that inspires them to excel and continue in this military occupational specialty and the Marine Corps.