MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
As a pilot of an F/A-18 flies over the region of attack, he puts his hand on the firing mechanism, pushes the red button to send a signal through the electrical system of the aircraft to the ordnance, which is then released and sent to the target area.
This would not be possible were it not for the squadron ordnance Marines.
The ordnance team’s main job is to arm the aircraft as it launches and to disarm the aircraft after it lands.
They are also responsible for maintenance, testing and troubleshooting and prepping the aircraft to launch, said Lance Cpl. Perry Braun Jr., aircraft ordnance technician with VMFA(AW)-225.
The ordnance team has several positions. “You have your team member who does the work, the team leader who directs the team member, and the quality assurance/safety observer who oversees the ordnance evolution,” said Cpl. Phillip Roberts, aircraft ordnance technician with VMFA(AW)-225.
This job is extremely dangerous; and the publications the ordnance Marines follow are written in blood, said Warrant Officer Richard Lopez, ordnance officer with VMFA(AW)-225.
In order to get things right, lessons from the past must be applied to the present.
“Each individual has to be certified and qualified to handle ordnance, first of all, and then to load it they have to be certified and qualified,” said Lopez.
There are many safety procedures and precautions in place in any shop; however, when it comes to a dangerous job like ordnance, safety is paramount.
“We have a lot of safety procedures in place to keep people from getting injured,” said Gunnery Sgt. William Payne, the aviation ordnance chief of VMFA(AW)-225.
The safety precautions taken, when ordnance is concerned, are the most important part of the process.
“We have certain billets that are filled, we have checklists and publications, and we have knowledge,” said Braun.
When people are involved, safety is a huge deal.
Before the aircraft can leave the ground, the ordnance team must check over the electrical systems to ensure the ordnance will work properly.
While the ordnance Marines are busy with keeping safe and out of harm’s way, yet still trying to get the job done, their stress levels vary.
When the machines aren’t cooperating the way they should be and there is not a sufficient amount of people to do the job, it can be stressful, said Braun.
The ordnance team has many tasks they have to get done to get the bombs and aircraft prepped.
They are in a dangerous and stressful job, yet they are out there doing it daily.
Were it not for the ordnance team, the pilots would not be able to push that little red button to send an electrical signal to the ordnance and releasing to the elimination of targets.