MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
Powerline maintenance on KC-130J Super Hercules is one of many aspects used in preserving the four-engine, turboprop, military transport aircraft.
Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152 is the only squadron aboard Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, whose aircraft utilizes a propeller, which requires maintenance different than the other fixed wing squadrons here; i.e. Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242, whose aircraft is the F/A-18 Hornet.
Powerline maintenance is the section of the squadron which specializes on the rotary aspect of the aircraft, plus more.
“Powerline division is responsible for engines, propellers and fuel cell maintenance,” said Sgt. KarlJoshua Miranda, a powerline collateral duty inspector with VMGR-152. “If there is anything wrong with the engines, we fix it. If there is anything wrong with the propellers, we replace them; and the big thing is fuel cell maintenance, because that’s the aspect that supports the main purpose of the KC-130J.”
The main purpose of the KC-130J Super Hercules is air-to-air refueling, as well as transporting manpower, supplies and vehicles.
According to Miranda, fuel cell maintenance could vary from refueling gas tanks used during air-to-air refueling, upkeep on the venting system or crawling inside gas tanks to repair leaks.
Miranda’s main mission as a powerline collateral duty inspector is to, “ensure safety, because that’s the most important part of the job.”
“I check everything,” said Miranda. “I send the Marines out there then spot check them. If they leave a tool inside the intake, and I don’t check that, the engine is going to blow up if the plane goes flying.”
Lance Cpl. Lawrence Salina, a powerline mechanic with VMGR-152, said his main mission is, “to fix these fans of freedom.”
“We keep the propellers in the proper working condition they are supposed to be in,” said Salina. “Every five years, we have to drop them off the wing and regrease them. We adjust anything from the insides to the outsides; we repair fiberglass, we fix the heating elements on them or anything else that has to do with the propellers and how they work and operate.”
Salina said he feels his job is important because it keeps the KC-130J Super Hercules in the air to fuel smaller aircraft that do not have the ability to fly long distances.
“We are the big birds,” said Salina. “We fly out and refuel these Ospreys that are dropping the ground troops off. We support the ground mission, and that’s the mission of the Marine Corps. The ground units actually doing the fighting, we make it possible for them to cross the Atlantic without stopping. That’s what the C-130 can do. We can go across the Atlantic or Pacific, nonstop.”
VMGR-152 relocated to MCAS Iwakuni in July, from their former home of Okinawa, Japan.
Upon arrival, the squadron received new facilities, gear and other essentials necessary in helping them better accomplish their mission.
“The mission hasn’t changed; it’s just a new location,” said Salina. “This is a more convenient location with the hangar and everything being new. We can get things done better, faster and easier. Down there, it was good for what it was, but it just wasn’t as nice and new as this.”
The maintenance Marines of VMGR-152 work around the clock, rain or shine, to assure their mission is accomplished and they stay a response-ready force to support any given situation when the need arises.