MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. - --
When Marine Aircraft Group 29 goes to the field for training or operations, it gets there on the broad back of Marine Wing Support Squadron 274.
That support will be exercised again Monday when MWSS-274 hauls two aircraft squadrons and a headquarters group to Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field Bogue for Exercise Carolina Thunder. Before the exercise can take place, the squadron’s motor transportation Marines must transport all the necessary supplies to enable those assets to accomplish their respective missions.
Staff Sgt. Michael Keith, the motor transportation operations chief, said the process starts with units submitting an equipment distribution list to the squadron mobility officer, who then prioritizes and creates a timeline for moving everything. The equipment and supplies slated to move are brought to a marshalling area, where Marines load it on trucks and haul it to the destination.
“A Marine has to sleep, right? So you have to haul tents,” Keith said. “A Marine has to eat, so you have to haul a kitchen or some kind of messing facility. You have to haul chow, you have to haul water, fuel, generators – all you’re doing is removing yourself from one area and building another area, so all those life-sustaining facilities have to be there.”
Besides those facilities, operators move operational necessities like bulldozers, computers, communications equipment, and everything else units need to complete the mission in the field.
Sgt. Edward Sanchez, the unit’s dispatch chief, plays an important role in making it happen. He decides what trucks carry which loads and acquires the necessary permits for transporting wide loads, tall loads and heavy loads.
“It takes about 10 days to turn around and get a permit and get the right equipment to transport a piece of gear,” said Sanchez. “The dispatcher is the first and last line of defense against sending out a truck that is overkill or under-kill for assets going down the road.”
The operators have a variety of vehicles available to tackle different loads. There are Humvees, covered and flatbed trucks, and semitrucks with large flat trailers for massive loads.
“We can set up a mini-air station with an MWSS,” said Sgt. Phillip Eades, the Motor T truck master. “Motor transport can transport anything within the realm of air station support.”