ABOARD THE USS BOXER -- The Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 165 (Reinforced), 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit's (Special Operations Capable) Aviation Combat Element (ACE) maintenance control team logged their 8,500th maintenance-man hour Oct. 10 on their current Western Pacific deployment while transiting through the U.S. 7th Fleet on their way to the Arabian Gulf.
Marines of maintenance control may never actually pilot any of the aircraft aboard Boxer, but they are considered the "heart and soul" of the squadron and flight operations.
Maintenance control team members are the behind-the-scenes guys of the behind-the-scenes guys, scheduling, tracking and quality assuring work for the ACE maintainers, who actually do the maintenance. Their ability to keep an eye on what needs to be done allows the maintainers to completely focus on the work at hand and ultimately get the aircraft mission ready.
"We have a knowledgeable team ready and are capable to take on any problem thrown our way," said Marine Staff Sgt. Robert J. Lee, a maintenance control supervisor for the ACE. "We are a team that works together to ensure each pilot's safety and mission success."
Much of ACE's maintenance control is comprised of junior Marines just out of school, who are skilled and trained to direct the maintenance of $30 million helicopters and jet aircraft.
“Maintenance Control is the heart of any squadron, whether you’re a Sailor or Marine, and these Marines do the job as good as anybody I’ve seen,” said Aviation Electrician’s Mate 1st Class (AW) Shana Svedberg of Boxer’s Aviation Intermediate Maintenance Department. “Maintenance control is vital to everything we do as maintainers. Without them, it’s impossible to keep aircraft flying and pilots safe.”
Their work is highly noticed by the pilots who fly the aircraft.
"The bottom line is we can't fly without a maintenance control team. They are the heart and soul of every squadron," said Marine Capt. Patrick Butler, a pilot assigned to HMM-165 (REIN) attached to the 15th MEU(SOC). "Honestly, if I can entrust these well-trained Marines with my life, I can trust that the aircraft are safe to fly."
When parts have to be ordered from off the ship to make repairs, the maintenance control team is right there to track the orders and ensure that parts are facilitated where they need to go expeditiously.
"Maintenance control actively coordinates what we do down here to repair the aircraft," said Marine Cpl. Adam Borland, an air-frames mechanic assigned to HMM-165 (REIN). "They make sure we do our job properly and safely for future missions."
As Boxer and the 15th MEU continue with their deployment, the HMM-165 (REIN) maintenance control team is continuing to ensure the ACE is able to support 7th Fleet’s mission.
The 15th MEU (SOC), part of Boxer Expeditionary Strike Group aboard the USS Boxer (LHD 4), USS Dubuque, and the USS Comstock (LSD 45), is currently deployed in the Western Pacific region.