MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. (OCT. 14, 2010) --
The Marine Corps is a force in readiness, and Marines are trained to expect the unexpected.
At 6 a.m., Oct. 14, an aircrew with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252 arrived at the hangar for a typical day – only to find out minutes later they’d be transporting 86 Marines on a last-minute KC-130J Hercules flight.
“We were in a time crunch,” said Cpl. Christopher L. Adams, a loadmaster with VMGR-252.
Adams and the other crewmembers quickly got to work to ensure the aircraft was ready for the 9 a.m. takeoff, in route to Marine Corps Air Station New River to pick up the 86 Marines from 2nd Marine Logistics Group.
“The thing that takes the longest to plan for is for the loadmasters to reconfigure the cargo compartment for that many personnel,” said Capt. Justin P. Betz, a squadron Hercules pilot and the mission’s pilot.
“It was a lot of work for those guys to put all those seats down.”
Adams said the number of seats they were going to need was the first thing that went through his mind.
“These exercises keep us on our toes,” Adams said, “And for the junior guys who have only been flying for a couple months, it gets their brains thinking more.”
The flight to New River took under 15 minutes and after a short taxi across the flight line, the Hercules was in front of the formation of 86 Marines waiting to load.
Adams said that’s when things can start to get chaotic.
“It seems like people don’t like to sit next to each other,” explained Adams. “We’re always making them squeeze in to get each seat filled properly.”
Once the Marines were seated in, the aircrew secured the back hatch and prepared for takeoff to Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field Bogue – about 20 miles east of New River.
“We landed at Bogue with an estimated total aircraft weight of 135,000 pounds at about 106 mph,” Betz explained.
“It’s a narrow, short strip at Bogue, and that’s what we have to train for because it’s what we’re expected to land on.”
The 2nd MLG Marines quickly offloaded and the VMGR-252 aircrew headed back to Cherry Point, landing at 10:30 a.m. – 90 minutes after departing Cherry Point.
Betz said the no-notice aspect of the exercise showed how quickly they’re capable of supporting the ground units.
“We do this so often, and we’ve become very good at it,” he said.