For Futenma squadron, safety is all in a day's work
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA, Okinawa — A Futenma-based Marine air squadron continues to rack up awards for a safety record that has been 37 years in the making.
Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152, which last year received the Chief of Naval Operations Aviation Safety Award for flying 250,000 hours without a major (Class A) mishap, has learned it will receive the Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron of the Year award for 2006 as the unit pushes its record to 260,000 hours, said Capt. Aaron M. Gates, the squadron’s aviation safety officer.
The 2006 award will be given in October by the Marine Corps Aviation Association at a group reunion and symposium in Virginia.
A Class A mishap is loss of life or aircraft or damage of more than $1 million, said Gunnery Sgt. Charles Albrecht, a Marine Corps spokesman.
The squadron, nicknamed the Sumos, has not had a Class A mishap since 1969, Gates said.
“This is a huge milestone,” he said. “Very few squadrons in the world make this achievement.”
The squadron maintained its safety record even while conducting numerous real-world operations, he said.
The squadron took part in humanitarian assistance missions after the 2004 Philippine mudslides, the 2004 Asian tsunami and another disastrous mudslide in the Philippines early this year, Gates said.
He called the squadron, with more than 10 KC-130 refuelers, the workhorse of the Pacific.
From May 2005 to April this year, the squadron delivered more than 4.5 million pounds of fuel to 650 aircraft and transported 4.6 million pounds of cargo and 9,800 passengers, according to squadron officials.
Missions also included airdropping 37,000 pounds of cargo as well as U.S, Thai, South Korean and Philippine troops.
Over the same period the squadron flew almost 1,900 single aircraft missions totaling more than 5,000 hours, officials said.
Lt. Col. Hugh Worden credited the performance to the 250 Marines in the squadron.
“From our youngest Marine to our most experienced, they work their hardest every day to accomplish the mission,” he said.
“That we are doing a real-world humanitarian aid jobs helps,” said Staff Sgt. Adam Church, an engine mechanic.
Flight mechanic Lance Cpl. Ryan Eckerman, 21, from Belton, Texas, agreed.
The humanitarian-aid missions “remind us why we work and what it’s all for,” he said.