MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Marines with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron were recognized for their accomplishments as the 2016 ARFF Unit of the Year and the 2016 United States Marine Corps Small Fire Department of the Year at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Aug. 1, 2017.
The awards were presented to the unit for their hard work and dedication providing aircraft recovery and firefighting services to the installation’s airfield. The Marines demonstrated an elite level of readiness while also contributing to major developments in the occupational field.
ARFF Marines on MCAS Iwakuni were the first unit to develop discrete emergency frequencies for emergency aircraft. They created the official ARFF qualification checklist and were the first to implement an assistant chief of operations and station captain. They also created the first ARFF emergency response binders to standardize all responses throughout ARFF units in the Marine Corps.
“These are very significant awards for us,” said U.S. Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer Derek McCarthy, the officer in charge of ARFF with H&HS. “We worked really hard last year. At least four of our accomplishments were some of the first in the Marine Corps. Watching my Marines accept these awards and seeing their hard work and efforts rewarded, by something so significant, is a proud moment for me and for them.”
McCarthy also said they were the first ARFF unit to win the United States Marine Corps Small Fire Department of the Year. He said the titles open new doors for his Marines to accomplish more and to earn the awards again in the future.
“This is a sign of great things to come,” said U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Patrick M. Egadidze, an aircraft rescue firefighter with H&HS. “It means that there is more to accomplish and that’s pushing us forward to something great.”
Earning the awards helped ARFF Marines build confidence in themselves and their unit.
“It boosts our self-esteem,” said Egadidze. “It shows our performance is worth something, and it inspires us to do better than how we have in the past.”
Egadidze also says it allows the Marines to realize that their hard work pays off.
“Keep pushing and one day you’ll get there,” said Egadidze. “It might not seem that way at first, but it’s all worth it in the long run.”