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Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point

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Cherry Point, North Carolina
VMAT-203 Marines turn wrenches to support student pilots

By Lance Cpl. Unique B. Roberts | Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point | May 02, 2014

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Lance Cpl. Erika Minnix takes the cannon plug off a digital electronic control unit inside of an AV-8B Harrier at Marine Attack Training Squadron 203 aboard Marine Corps Air station Cherry Point, N.C., April 21, 2014. VMAT-203 supports 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing by training Harrier pilots. Minnix is an aircraft communications navigation radar systems technician with the squadron.

Lance Cpl. Erika Minnix takes the cannon plug off a digital electronic control unit inside of an AV-8B Harrier at Marine Attack Training Squadron 203 aboard Marine Corps Air station Cherry Point, N.C., April 21, 2014. VMAT-203 supports 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing by training Harrier pilots. Minnix is an aircraft communications navigation radar systems technician with the squadron. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Unique B. Roberts)


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Lance Cpl. Erika Minnix checks a shortage sheet while repairing an aircraft at Marine Attack Training Squadron 203 aboard Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., April 21, 2014. A shortage sheet checks the availability of a specific tool and keeps track of all tools to lower the possibility of aircraft hazards. Minnix is an aircraft communications navigation radar systems technician with the squadron.

Lance Cpl. Erika Minnix checks a shortage sheet while repairing an aircraft at Marine Attack Training Squadron 203 aboard Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., April 21, 2014. A shortage sheet checks the availability of a specific tool and keeps track of all tools to lower the possibility of aircraft hazards. Minnix is an aircraft communications navigation radar systems technician with the squadron. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Unique B. Roberts)


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Lance Cpl. Bryce Wexell hands Lance Cpl. Erika Minnix a socket wrench with an extension while repairing an AV-8B Harrier at Marine Attack Training Squadron 203 aboard Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., April 21, 2014. Wexell and Minnix are maintenance Marines with the squadron who are charged with repairing, maintaining and inspecting aircraft. VMAT-203 trains student pilots to fly the Harrier.

Lance Cpl. Bryce Wexell hands Lance Cpl. Erika Minnix a socket wrench with an extension while repairing an AV-8B Harrier at Marine Attack Training Squadron 203 aboard Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., April 21, 2014. Wexell and Minnix are maintenance Marines with the squadron who are charged with repairing, maintaining and inspecting aircraft. VMAT-203 trains student pilots to fly the Harrier. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Unique B. Roberts)


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MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. -- Maintenance Marines with Marine Attack Training Squadron 203, aboard Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, play a vital role in ensuring AV-8B Harriers are serviceable to the squadron, which supports both the squadron’s mission of developing pilots for the fleet and the overall mission of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.

The maintenance Marines go through extensive training in school that is not only essential for them to learn, but is important for the pilots who are learning to fly the aircraft, according to Staff Sgt. Sean C. Corey, a fixed-wing aircraft mechanic with VMAT-203.

“In order for the squadron to train pilots, the maintenance crews have to keep these planes flying so the pilots can complete their sorties and transition into the fleet,” said Corey.

The squadron’s maintenance department is made up of 10 individual sections. The individual sections include airframe mechanics and avionics and ordnance technicians, whose daily tasks range from inspecting aircraft functions to repairing aircraft systems, according to Corey.

The Marines responsible for maintaining the squadron’s aircraft work as efficiently and carefully as possible to repair and maintain the aircraft. After repairs are made, collateral duty inspectors log and monitor all changes or updates conducted on the aircraft in order to ensure quality control, according to Corey.

Although the process can be time consuming, it is essential for both the maintenance Marines and the student pilots, said Corey.

“This job requires our Marines to be flexible and patient,” said Corey. “We depend on every maintenance crew member to ensure these aircraft are ready for flight.”

Lance Cpl. Erika L. Minnix, an aircraft communications navigation radar systems technician with the squadron, ensures flight controls function properly before and after flight.

“We take care of the generator that powers the auxiliary power unit and the battery, which all start the aircraft,” said Minnix.

Each individual maintenance section plays a vital role in the success of the squadron, and all the maintenance Marines help develop the efficiency of the squadron’s student pilots, said Minnix.

“We all definitely play a pretty big part,” said Minnix. “Each of us works hand-in-hand to support our pilots and help them be the best they can be, which in turn makes the squadron the best it can be.”


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