MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
Sgt. Ray A. Finlay lives his life defying the odds and continuously rises above the challenges he faces.
When entering the Marine Corps, the KC-130J Hercules crew master with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252, did not even know the job he currently works in existed.
“I enlisted with an aircrew contract and originally, I thought I would be on a helicopter,” he said. “But I couldn’t have picked a better job.”
KC-130J crew masters are responsible for supporting a variety of missions the ‘Hercs’ can be used for, including aerial refueling, rapid ground refueling, troop and cargo transportation and close air support. During aerial refueling operations, they observe and operate the aerial refueling panel.
With only three Hercules squadrons in the Marine Corps, Finlay and his coworkers are afforded the opportunity to travel to many locations.
“Travel is my favorite aspect,” said Finlay. “I get to go to a lot of different places, pretty much all over the world.”
Aside from the joys of traveling, he also lives for the everyday challenges of working with his squadron.
“Every day brings a different mission, a different task to be carried out,” he said. “We can go from one mission the aircraft can perform to another. We are that flexible and that is a challenge.”
Although the many members of the squadron are frequently deployed to one area or another, unit cohesion remains strong.
“It is a very tight-knit community,” he said. “Our community is very small in the Marine Corps. There are very few people in the community you don’t know.”