KANDAHAR AIR FIELD, Afghanistan -- When a Marine flight lands in Kandahar, landing support Marines from Headquarters and Service Company, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), are responsible for making sure all personnel and equipment get to their final destination.
"We are a small detachment, but we have a big mission," said Staff Sgt. Gabriel Aranda, the staff noncommissioned officer in charge of the Kandahar Arrival/Departure Airfield Control Group, Landing Support Detachment, H&S Company, 1st MLG (FWD). "We’re in charge of all Marine flights on this base, both outgoing and incoming."
The 11 landing support Marines from 1st MLG (FWD) working in Kandahar support flights every day. Marines in the fight depend on these landing support Marines to help provide them with the necessary gear to continue with their mission, including medical supplies.
"We see a lot of blood and medical gear come through here," said Aranda, 31, from San Jose, Calif. "When you see that, you know your job is just that much more important."
The Marines put a lot of preparation into each flight. They check the items being shipped for dangerous materials. They then weigh the pallets of cargo to ensure the plane can carry it; the weight of the contents in an aircraft have an impact on the amount of fuel needed to arrive at it’s destination. Finally, landing support Marines secure all cargo going into the planes so it does not get damaged during the flight. In total, the Kandahar A/DACG, Landing Support Detachment is responsible for moving about 20,000 pounds of cargo each day.
"Although it is hard work, I help get supplies to everyone, and that makes them mission capable," said Lance Cpl. Spencer R. McKinstry, a heavy equpment operater with Kandahar A/DACG, Landing Support Detachment, H&S Company, 1st MLG (FWD). "It is good to know I’m helping with the mission."
The landing support Marines are also responsible for organizing about 200 personnel daily for air transportation throughout Afghanistan. Many are trying to fly without specific air support requests. Rosters are generated by the detachment for those personel who are trying to get on an aircraft that has space available.
The landing support Marines in Kandahar are a small group who have learned a lot about each other since they arrived.
"I like the people I work with," said Lance Cpl. Corey D. Borkenhagen, the cargo noncommissoned officer with Kandahar A/DACG Landing Support Detachment, H &S Company, 1st MLG (FWD). "It is a small group, but we’ve gotten to know each other very well."
The landing support Marines working in Kandahar serve alongside a large contingent of the International Security Assistance Force and are given a chance to meet service members from all over the world.
"I enjoy working here because not only am I helping Marines get their gear," said Aranda, "I get a chance to work with other military forces such as the English, Canadians, Australians and the Swedish."