MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Some people see the job of a landing support specialist as simply waving an aircraft to its destination.
The part of the job that most people do not know about is the 200 miles-per-hour winds, while a hook, electrified with more than 10,000 volts, hangs from an aircraft swinging inches over the heads of the LSS Marines.
For LSS or better known as the red patchers, it’s just another day on the job.
When the landing support specialists do an external aerial cargo pick-up, they first set up the slings on the supplies such as food and ammunition getting picked up. Then, they face extreme winds as an aircraft hovers less than ten feet above the ground. While fighting the fierce winds, they ground the high voltage hook with a static wand, a tool that takes the electrical charge out of the hook. Only then can they quickly hook up the cargo and get out of the way, because once the aircraft raises the cargo, it can start swinging violently. The job can get very dangerous, very quickly.
The hazards the red pitchers face “You have to depend on your team,” said Cpl. Rodrick D. Jennings, a landing support specialist with CLR 17. “You need that other guy by your side.”
To be able to place the cargo and personnel correctly, the Marines need to put in hard work and utilize their skills.
“Our job is to ensure that the cargo and personnel get put through and to provide logistical support for the Marines who are in the front lines of the fight,” said 2nd Lt. Daniel Johnson, platoon commander, Landing Support Company, CLR 17.
The Marines display expertise that is impressive. Their work ethic and ability to perform is a reflection of their preparation and hard work, said Johnson.
LSS Marines have a wide set of skills. They can work with almost any naval vessel and an air wing unit. They operate helicopter support teams, arrival/departure air control groups, port operating groups and beach operating groups.
The Marines with the red patches are more than just the guys that show the boats where to land on a beach. They are the ones that put themselves on the line to make sure essential cargo and personnel get to the Marines on the front lines.
“People think our job is easy,” said Jennings. “It’s more dangerous than what people think. If it weren’t for red patchers, a lot of things wouldn’t get done.”