MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
“Have you seen the movie Top Gun? How jets land and they have a hook that catches a wire and that stops them? We do the same thing here on the air station,” said Staff Sgt. Joseph Pacheco, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron runway supervisor.
Pacheco also mentioned such landings are only done in case of emergency, but it’s important to always prepare for such an occurrence.
It’s because of this need for continual preparedness recovery Marines aboard station maintain a constant vigilance, working around the clock to keep those who use the flightline safe.
One of the pieces of recovery gear Marines here focus on keeping in peak condition is the E-28 Emergency Runway Arresting Gear, which is used to catch the tail hook of incoming jets, if such a landing is necessary.
The operational reach of recovery goes far beyond just performing routine maintenance aboard station, though. When it comes to exercises such as Geiger Fury, where Marines made world-first achievements on creating runways in austere environments, it’s the recovery Marines who make such things possible.
“I went to the Philippines and we were there for Exercise Balikatan 2013, and what we did there, they said couldn’t be done,” said. Lance Cpl. Arien K. McClure, expeditionary airfield technician.
“Right now, our shop is the hottest recovery shop in the Marine Corps. We went to Tinian, did the first coral installation ever. I was on station when it happened, but being able to be part of it, in a way, is exhilarating knowing we set that record.”
Recovery Marines from Iwakuni currently hold the military-wide record for arrestment landings conducted in less than an hour, performing 13 during Exercise Forager Fury 2012. They also held the previous record of 10, achieved during Geiger Fury 2012.