Maintenance Marines support 15th MEU ACE during COMPTUEX
By Cpl. Rob Henderson
| | May 2, 2001
ABOARD USS PELELIU -- Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 163 (Reinforced), stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, is taking part in the Composite Training Underway Exercise (COMPTUEX) that started here on May 1, 2001.
The composite squadron makes up the Aviation Combat Element (ACE) of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit scheduled to deploy on a Western Pacific float in August.
The ACE utilizes several aircraft including the CH-46E Sea Knights, CH-53E Super Stallions, UH-1N Hueys, AH-1W Super Cobras, and AV-8B Harrier Jets. The ACE also has two KC-130 Hercules attached to the composite squadron.
The ACE's mission, as a whole, is to support the ground element, said Master Gunnery Sgt. Oscar G. Adley, ACE Maintenance Chief. "Everyone from Airframes to Flight Equipment to Avionics is out here to get the training on shipboard operations."
The ACE is training to handle real-world scenarios including Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel, humanitarian assistance operations, and non-combatant evacuation operations. It is the first time the ACE has trained together as a unit, said Adley.
"It's really good that we are getting used to working on-board a ship. Even though we?re basically doing the same job here as we would on land, we need to get used to this environment so we can do our job: keep the aircraft flying," said Lance Cpl. Jesus D. Meza, an airframes and hydraulics mechanic with HMM-163 (Reinforced). Meza is a 20-year-old native of Santo Paula, Calif.
When the MEU gets underway in August, the ACE will have 29 aircraft on board, but only 23 aircraft are participating in COMPTUEX, according to Adley.