CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq --
CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq – As the MV-22 Osprey lands, it kicks up a wake of wind and dust that could knock over and blind someone. Regardless, every time any kind of aircraft lands here, Marines charge towards them on foot, glow-stick in hand.
These Marines are landing support specialists from Headquarters and Service Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 5, 1st Marine Logistics Group. It is these Marines’ job to escort any passengers in and out of the aircraft, coordinate and communicate with pilots and make sure that anyone who is flying out of Camp Fallujah has as smooth a time as possible.
“We’re responsible for the accountability of everyone who comes through here,” said Lance Cpl. Jason C. Akin, a 21-year-old landing support specialist with HQ Co., CLB-5 from Claremore, Okla.
“We like knowing that we’re getting people where they need to be,” said Cpl. Brianna D. Mays, a 19-year-old landing support specialist, the team’s passenger noncommissioned officer in charge from La Fayette, Calif.
The team is not only responsible for people who fly in and out of Camp Fallujah, but any cargo that makes its way from camp-to-camp via helicopters.
“When the aircraft lands, it’s also our job to get cargo onto the aircraft, and when there’s cargo for Camp Fallujah, to get it where it needs to be,” said Cpl. Ron L. Mudica, the team’s daytime cargo NCO, from Buellton, Calif. “When dealing with the cargo, I do my best to make sure that the job is easy for the aircrew.”
To make the aircrew’s job easy, Mudica ensures that the cargo doesn’t exceed weight limits and is suitable for flight, he said.
Mudica and the nighttime cargo NCO also ensure that cargo sent here reaches its proper recipient.
“When we have cargo delivered here, I call the recipients and make sure that it gets delivered directly to them,” Mudica said.
Though cargo delivery is an important part of the mission, the people that fly into and out of Fallujah are who the landing support crew spends the majority of their time working with and helping out.
“We do our best to make sure that everyone gets on their flight,” said Mays. “And when they’re waiting, we do our best to keep them informed of what’s going on.”
When the helicopters deliver passengers to Camp Fallujah’s landing zone, Mays and her Marines await their arrival at the “birds.” From there they escort them to the processing tent where passengers can call to get where they need to be.
“Then we make sure that the outbound passengers get to their flights,” Mays said. The Marines do this by escorting the passengers directly into the aircraft.
“My Marines are all doing excellent at their job,” said Sgt. Cory M. Martin, the team’s 23-year-old platoon sergeant. “They’re all hard workers and are performing ‘over-par.’”
Martin explained that all his Marines have taken it upon themselves to become fluent with the systems and tactics that are used on the flight line here.
“They push themselves to learn new things constantly,” Martin said. “I’m confident that if something happened, one of my Marines could run the whole show.”
The Marines also perform extremely well because of the camaraderie they share, Mays said.
“We really get the job done well together,” she said.