View Full Version : 'Coyote' maintainers keep squadron flying

06-15-04, 06:01 AM
'Coyote' maintainers keep squadron flying
Submitted by: 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing
Story Identification #: 20046156324
Story by Lance Cpl. Matthew T. Rainey

AL Taqqadum, Iraq (June 15, 2004) -- Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, the maintenance Marines of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 775, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, turn wrenches and inspect each other's work to ensure their helicopters can fly within minutes of an alert.

This wasn't always the case for the Marines that preserve, repair and prepare the UH-1N Hueys and the AH-1W Super Cobras for this activated Reserve squadron. With half of the squadron accustomed to working in the military occupational specialty only one weekend a month and two weeks a year, Operation Iraqi Freedom has given the "Coyotes" time to grow together as an entire unit.

The unit came together from Camp Pendleton, Calif., and Johnstown, Pa., to meet as an entire squadron in Al Asad, Iraq, explained Master Sgt. Robert F. Dixon, maintenance chief, HMLA-775.

"It was almost like we had two squadrons joining together," said the 41 year old.

With active-duty Marines and activated reservists coming together from two ends of the country, not all the Marines were on the same page.

"It was a mission in itself to get the reservists up to speed with certifications and proficiencies," said Gunnery Sgt. Michael P. Edwards, flightline division chief, HMLA-775. "It took some time and some hard work, but these Marines were ready to go."

The operational tempo has been something that all of the maintenance Marines have had to adjust to, claimed Staff Sgt. Christopher D. Brainard, airframes mechanic, HMLA-775.

"We've had a lot of work to do with all of the helicopters going out and getting shot up," said Brainard. "Especially when they were going to Fallujah. They were coming back with bullet holes in the windshield, main rotor blade... even the ordnance."

Not only are the Marines dealing with an increased workload and pace, but they are also working without many of the tools and conveniences they have in the United States.

"It's not primitive here, but we don't have all the shop tools we are used to (having). We have to make up our own tools," explained Brainard.

The hot and windy weather on the flightline and inside work areas adds to the obstacles the Marines face when trying to complete their mission.

"It is so hot here all the time," said Cpl. Andrew A. Robinson, aviation maintenance administrative clerk, HMLA-775. "We have a fan, but it's not for us. It's for our computers so that they don't overheat."

The inevitable reminders of being in a combat zone also took some getting used to, Brainard interjected.

"In April, we were getting hit with mortars everyday. The guys are used to it now. They know exactly what to do," he said.

Despite the constant distractions, the maintenance crews continue to get the job done every day.

"It's amazing the technical knowledge these kids have. They have performed outstanding. We've gotten accolades from the commandant on down," said Sgt. Maj. William H. Carter, HMLA-775 sergeant major. "The pilots rely on the maintenance Marines to keep their helicopters flying."

The "Coyotes'" commanding officer, Lt. Col. Bruce Orner, AH-1W pilot, HMLA-775, can focus on the mission at hand without worrying if his maintenance crew has made the necessary repairs.

"I have a lot of confidence in them. There hasn't been a thought in the back of my mind when I go out to fly as far as maintenance goes," said the California State University graduate. "They've performed beyond my expectations. If I could handpick a crew, I couldn't have done better."

Unceasing effort from the entire maintenance section allows the "Coyotes" to be a quick reaction force.

"These guys always have the birds ready to go," said Edwards. "The pilots just have to hop in and start them up. Ordnance arms them and they are away. We can be in Fallujah in a matter of minutes."

The squadron's performance since they began flying missions for OIF reflects on the maintenance crew's ability to have their helicopters ready to launch whenever they are needed.

"We have completed 100 percent of the missions we've been tasked with for the last three months," said Orner.

The Marines take care of their helicopters because they know what is at stake, said Edwards.

"These Marines know that every second counts. They know it can be the difference between the bad guys pulling the trigger on a grunt, or them hearing the sound of our rotors spinning and getting out of there," he explained.


Lance Cpl. Omar Acuna inspects the main rotor of an AH-1W Super Cobra, June 8 at Al Taqqadum, Iraq. Acuna is a plane captain with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 775, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. Maintenance Marines work 12-hour shifts, seven days a week through the harsh Iraqi heat in order to keep their aircraft flying every day. HMLA-775 is deployed to Al Taqqadum, Iraq, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Photo by: Lance Cpl. Matthew T. Rainey



06-15-04, 06:02 AM
Marines spark fun at Iraqi school <br />
Submitted by: 1st Marine Division <br />
Story Identification #: 20046156338 <br />
Story by Sgt. Jose L. Garcia <br />
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AL KALADIYAH, Iraq(June 9, 2004) -- Children from Al...

06-15-04, 06:04 AM
VP-47 returns from the Middle East
Submitted by: MCB Hawaii
Story Identification #: 2004614162746
Story by Cpl. Jessica M. Mills

MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, Kaneohe Bay(June 11, 2004) -- Returning home after a six-month deployment in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, more than 335 Sailors from Patrol Squadron 47 landed at the flight line here, June 5.

Open arms of grateful family members, friends and fellow service members greeted the Sailors during the welcome home ceremony organized by key volunteers and a handful of VP-47 service members who returned two days earlier.

The Morale, Welfare and Recreation Center donated welcome home packets for the military and family members, and the squadron purchased hundreds of lei for the returning Sailors. Further, a women's organization at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Kaneohe donated trays upon trays of baked goods for the squadron.

"It feels amazing to return home from a six-month deployment and receive such a warm welcome," said Senior Chief Eric Delacruz, leading chief petty officer at VP-47's Command Services Department. "It really makes you feel appreciated again."

Family members like Shannon Hanson, whose husband had been deployed with the squadron for the last six months, said she had been anxiously awaiting these moments since the very day the unit left.

"I am so excited. This deployment has felt like it lasted forever," said Hanson. "The first [thing] I'm going to do when I see [him] is cry and thank God he is okay."

As soon as the Sailors approached within greeting distance of the arrival hangar, the calm, but eager assembly of families and friends transformed into a tumbling sea of hugs, kisses and tears.

"It feels so good to be home, it was a very long deployment," said Navy Lt. Andre Moser, a maintenance material control officer with the squadron. "All I've wanted, the entire deployment, is to see my family. I am happy now," he said, as he embraced his wife and children.

According to Delacruz, the unit is not scheduled to depart any time soon. However, Patrol Squadron 47 is scheduled for the inter-deployment training cycle, which means when it is called again it must be ready for action.


Master Chief Jeff Van Dyke, the maintenance master chief for Patrol Squadron 47 aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, takes a good look at his son after returning from a six-month deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, June 5. Photo by: Cpl. Jessica M. Mills



06-15-04, 06:05 AM
Marines reassure Iraqis of June 30 authority transfer <br />
Submitted by: 1st Marine Division <br />
Story Identification #: 200461555241 <br />
Story by Cpl. Macario P. Mora Jr. <br />
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CAMP AL ASAD, Iraq(June 10,...

06-15-04, 06:07 AM
Blue Diamond team honors one of their fallen
Submitted by: 1st Marine Division
Story Identification #: 200461525127
Story by Gunnery Sgt. Mark Oliva

CAMP BLUE DIAMOND, Iraq(June 13, 2004) -- Lance Cpl. Jeremy L. Bolhman wasn't even supposed to be out on the patrol when he was killed in action June 7. He volunteered to take the place of another Marine, giving that Marine needed rest.

"He took my spot that night," said Lance Cpl. Travis W. Johnson, Bohlman's teammate. "I was supposed to be there that night. I know he'd do it again. That's how he was."

Marines, in a memorial service here, honored Bohlman, a 21-year-old from Sioux Falls, Idaho, June 13. He was a member of the division's jump command post.

He was remembered as a scrappy Marine, one who never backed down from a fight and had a fascination with knives and swords.

Johnson said he didn't know how Bohlman managed to bring a sword with him for his second deployment to Iraq, but wielded it in mock fights with him.

"I had a few sword fights," Johnson explained. "I had a wooden one and he had a real one. They didn't last that long.

"He was a fighter at heart," he added. "He's got that heart. He always had seven or eight knives."

Johnson also spoke of Bolhman's dedication to his fellow Marines. He said he was often found working through the night fixing the light armored vehicles he drove so other Marines might get a couple hours' rest.

"He was an unselfish Marine," Johnson said. "He didn't care if he had to work all night long. It didn't matter what was on his collar. He was a hard working Marine."

Capt. Edward T. Card, Bohlman's team commander, described him as a "seasoned Marine" and "combat veteran." He used words such as "faithful" and "trusted and motivated friend of the Marines" when he spoke of him.

"Those Marines and sailors who served with him, admired him," Card said. "Let us not honor Lance Corporal Bohlman's passing, but his achievements in life."

Navy Cmdr. Bill Devine, chaplain for 1st Marine Division, offered words of comfort to the packed chapel.

"Often, bad things happen to good people," Devine said. "That's not God's plan. Because there are those who choose not to love, bad things happen to good people."

Devine reminded the Marines of the camaraderie they shared with Bolhman, evidenced by those gathered to honor his life.

"He wrestled with you, whether you wanted to or not, or with the sword fights, he loved you and you knew it," he said. "I've sensed God's presence over here. I've felt that bond over here - how much we care for each other. I'll even say love each other."

Taps sounded for Bolhman, a lone and somber bugler offering a final salute for the Marine. One-by-one, Marines stepped to the helmet, rifle, boots and identification tags set up to memorialize Bohlman. Several pulled their own knives from their pockets, jamming them into the boards. Others hung their own tags next to his. Still, some just reached and touched the helmet.

Johnson ended his remarks with a promise between friends.

"I truly believe, one day, I will see him again," he added.

Bolhman is survived by his wife Lindsey.


Lance Cpl. Brian R. Ojalehto says his final goodbye to Lance Cpl. Jeremy L Bohlman during a memorial service held at Camp Blue Diamond, Iraq. Gohlman, a member of the division's jump command post, was killed in action in Ar Ramadi June 7.
(USMC photo by Gunnery Sgt. Mark Oliva) Photo by: Gunnery Sgt. Mark Oliva


Marines stabbed their pocket knives into the memorial for Lance Cpl. Jeremy L. Bohlman who was known to always carry several knives with him. Bohlman was killed in action in Ar Ramadi June 7 and memorialized by his Marines at Camp Blue Diamond June 13.
(USMC photo by Gunnery Sgt. Mark Oliva) Photo by: Gunnery Sgt. Mark Oliva



06-15-04, 08:25 AM
Marines, soldiers break ground on new community health clinic in Iraq
Submitted by: 1st Marine Division
Story Identification #: 20046154165
Story by Gunnery Sgt. Mark Oliva

KHALIDIYAH, Iraq(June 12, 2004) -- What is now an empty dirt lot in the middle of a maze of brick and concrete homes will soon be the key to a small Iraqi community's promise of health care.

Marines from 1st Marine Division, along with soldiers from the Army's 1st Battalion, 34th Armored Regiment broke ground on a new medical clinic in the Abu Fleis district of Khalidiyah, a city wedged between Fallujah and Ar Ramadi.

Marines and soldiers working in the area found out through meeting with local leaders that "the area was underserved as far as medical capabilities," explained Navy Capt. John M. Williams Sr., a public health officer for the 1st Marine Division. "The people needed a clinic now, so this was more of a cooperative effort between us and the locals."

Williams said that medical clinics in Iraq are normally built and administered by the Ministry of Health in Baghdad, Iraq's capital. The need was so great in Khalidiyah, though, that doctors, local leaders and a sheik came together with Marines and soldiers to remedy the problem.

The local district manager, Thaer Hulu Hamdala coordinated the effort and Sheik Khalil Hardan Suleiman donated the plot of land where the clinic will be built. Iraqi Dr. Rami Barko Aeyoos already volunteered to work at the clinic.

"It's a novel approach to building a clinic," Williams added. "It's going to get up and operating much faster. The hope is, that in a year, the Ministry of Health will pick it up."

The project is slated to cost $39,800 for construction and another $7,500 in furnishings. It is estimated the project will be complete Aug. 24. When it's completed, the clinic will serve nearly 4,000 Iraqis from about 700 different families.

Army Lt. Col. Jeff Swisher, commander of the Army's 1st Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment, said the clinic groundbreaking was a step forward in improving life.

"This is part of a continuing partnership," Swisher said. "We've already put money into other health clinics and schools. This is another example of local communities identified their needs."

Suleiman said the clinic will be a leap forward in the local community's ability to care for themselves. The area is traditionally underserved in municipal projects and only recently, with Coalition help, improvements were made.

"Health is always a concern," the sheik said. "After that, then we can think about wealth. Through this, they can build good relations as much as they serve the people."

The shortage of health care in the Abu Fleis region of Khalidiyah was apparent. Iraqis draw water straight from the Euphrates River. They have sporadic electricity and most health clinics in the area have no way of storing vaccines and antibiotics that need to be refrigerated.

"Simple things like X-ray machines are needed here," Williams said. "If someone has a broken arm, they have to travel to Ramadi, which is a half a day's travel."

To start relieving the problem, Marines and soldiers delivered medical stocks to other nearby clinics, including gauze and even medicine to treat diabetes. More efforts are being made to keep the shelves full.

"We're trying to assist with direct donations of medical supplies," Williams said. "We anticipate in the next four-to-six weeks we'll see a direct shipment of donated medical supplies we can surge to these clinics."

The idea of Iraqis from Khalidiyah working with Coalition Forces is a positive step, forward, Williams said. The region is known for not being friendly toward soldiers and Marines patrolling the area

"The clinic sends a positive message that the Coalition does care," Williams said. "Out of all the clinics, I've got the best feeling that this one will succeed. This is truly a community effort."


Navy Capt. John M. Williams Sr. (left), a public health officer with 1st Marine Division and Army Lt. Col. Jeff Swisher, commander of the Army's 1st Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment join Iraqi leaders in breaking ground on a new clinic in the Abu Fleis community of Khalidiyah, Iraq. the clinic project is a cooperative effort between the local Iraqi leaders and Coalition Forces.
(USMC photo by Gunnery Sgt. Mark Oliva) Photo by: Gunnery Sgt. Mark Oliva



06-16-04, 12:18 AM
Lake Stevens supports Marines
Groups collect donations for care packages to help slain soldier's unit in Iraq

By Katherine Schiffner
Herald Writer

LAKE STEVENS - Donations and letters of support are being collected for a battalion of U.S. Marines who served in Iraq with Pfc. Cody Calavan.

Calavan, 19, a U.S. Marine Corps machine gunner, was killed in an explosion in Iraq on May 29. He joined the Marines after graduating from Lake Stevens High School in 2003.

Care packages for soldiers in his battalion will be assembled this week by Lake Stevens middle school students, the Lions Club and the American Legion.

"We want them to know we care about them and we support them," said Dick Cowden of Lake Stevens, area coordinator for Operation Interdependence, a program meant to show soldiers that their military service is appreciated by the folks at home.

The Lake Stevens-area group just happened to be assigned the soldiers who served with Calavan, Cowden said. Local residents and students have been collecting donations for soldiers since the war started, he said.

Each month, soldiers receive a plastic bag filled with socks, sample-size toiletries, candy, books and other treats.

Soldiers especially need hygiene products including creams, suntan lotion, foot and body powder, he said. They have to be in small containers - sample sizes of 6 to 8 ounces fit in the individual bags.

They also enjoy DVDs, Cowden said. The Tulalip Casino donated a thousand packs of playing cards, too.

The soldiers enjoy getting the care packages, but they seem to appreciate the notes and cards of support the most, Cowden said.

"As long as they're there, we'll be there for them," Cowden said.

To donate, drop off items at North Lake or Lake Stevens middle schools by Wednesday. Cash donations also are being accepted at the schools, Cowden said.

Reporter Katherine Schiffner: 425-339-3436 or schiffner@heraldnet.com.