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Brig. Gen. George Trautman, right, commanding general of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, talks to Marines and sailors of Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152 during a short ceremony Thursday honoring their 250,000 class "A" mishap-free flight hours.
Brig. Gen. George Trautman, right, commanding general of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, talks to Marines and sailors of Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152 during a short ceremony Thursday honoring their 250,000 class "A" mishap-free flight hours. (Fred Zimmerman / S&S)

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA, Okinawa — A squadron here passed a major safety milestone this week, amassing 250,000 hours of flying without a major incident.

Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152 (VMGR-152) — the “Sumos” — hit the mark during a Wednesday flight from MCAS Iwakuni, Japan, to Wake Island, according to the squadron’s commanding officer, Lt. Col. Hugh Worden. The safety statistics are for class “A” mishap-free flight hours, which Worden said means no loss of life, no damage to an aircraft exceeding $1 million, or total loss of an aircraft.

“The last loss we had was 18 May, 1969, in a midair collision off the coast of Vietnam,” Worden said.

The unit flies two variations of the KC-130, the “F” and “R,” Worden said. The Fs all are more than 40 years old and the R versions all are more than 30. The squadron is scheduled to fly its current planes until 2011, Worden added.

“This squadron has the oldest KC-130 in the Marine Corps,” Worden said.

“The average age [of Marines] in our squadron is 25,” Worden said. “The average plane is 38.”

Keeping the planes and crews safe in the air is the job of the Marines who maintain the aircraft. Worden said they all are intelligent people who are trained well and led well.

“Teamwork is a big part of it … we couldn’t do it any other way,” he said.

In addition to teamwork, said Sgt. Jonathon Hass, who works in the squadron’s airframe section, it’s also “caring about the people that fly on them.”

Worden said the VMGR community has a history of safety and the KC-130s are “solid” airplanes but the safety milestone is due to the unit’s hard work.

“It speaks volumes to the Marines that fix them,” he said. “They do things according to specifications and make sure we’re safe.”

The unit flies about 470 hours each month, Worden said, and for every hour of flight time, about 21 maintenance hours are put into the planes on the ground.

On Thursday, the unit celebrated the milestone in one of its hangars. Brig. Gen. George Trautman, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing commanding general, spoke to the Marines about the accomplishment.

While Trautman praised them for the achievement, he then challenged them to think about how the next mishap could happen and what they could do to prevent it.

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