MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. (March 25) --
Eight Marine Air Support Squadron 1 Marines were awarded Naval Aviation Observer Wings March 25.
Marine Administrative Message 091/11 was recently revised to approve MASS-1 Marines to wear the wings, which they received for conducting direct air support center operations from inside flying aircraft.
MASS-1 serves as the link between ground and air forces, allowing for communication between the two and enabling effective air support missions.
“We provide close-air support and process immediate air requests to the Marine expeditionary force commander,” said Gunnery Sgt. Eric C. Frazier, the air support company first sergeant. “We can do it on the ground or in the air, and the wings are for when we do it from an airborne platform.
Previously, Marines who operated OV-10 Bronco surveillance aircraft were the only Marines who rated the wings. The Broncos were phased out of the Marine Corps in 1995, and now the wings are being granted to those involved in air support operations from airborne platforms, such as MASS-1.
The current requirements of the award stipulate that a Marine must be assigned to duty involving flight for at least six months, have accumulated 100 hours of flight time directly related to air support control operations, and must be either an air command and control officer, an air support control officer, an air support operations officer or an aviation communications system technician.
Currently, 14 MASS-1 Marines wear the wings. Eight were awarded in the ceremony, and six more are to be awarded to Marines who weren’t present at the recent ceremony.
“It’s nice to be recognized for the work that we’ve done in the direct air support center flying the air support missions in the back of a C-130,” said Maj. George J. Seegel, the operations officer for MASS-1. “There are a lot of MASS Marines that support the Marine air command and control group by flying in not only the C-130 but also in joint surveillance and target attack radar system aircraft and other air platforms during Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and during training exercises.”
Seegel said that MASS-1 Marines take to the air because communications are limited on the ground, so they support the direct air support center mission by using aircraft to increase the range of their communications and effectively control more airspace.
This innovation lends itself as evidence to the adaptive nature of MASS-1 Marines.
“I think it symbolizes how versatile we are as we can do our job from the ground and from the air,” said Staff. Sgt. Rober J. Giossi. “By having the wings, it signifies that we’ve done our job, and we’re qualified to conduct ourselves on an airborne platform.”