View Full Version : Marines prove no problem to big

09-15-03, 06:42 AM
Submitted by: MCAS Iwakuni <br />
Story Identification Number: 2003911166 <br />
Story by Cpl. Dave Boni <br />
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CAMP WY WUH ANNETTE ISLAND, Alaska(Sept. 12) -- Combat engineers from Marine Wing Support Squadron...

09-15-03, 06:44 AM
MWSS-473 comes to WTI's rescue
Submitted by: MCAS Yuma
Story Identification Number: 2003911122212
Story by Sgt. Jay C. McDaniel

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz.(Sept. 11, 2003) -- With most of Marine Wing Support Squadron-371 deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq fighting the war on terrorism, a hole emerged in terms of station engineering support. The biannual Weapons and Tactics Instructor course wouldn't be possible without MWSS-371's aviation ground support.

But the show must go on, and that is where MWSS-473 and its parent command, Marine Wing Support Group-47, stepped in. The squadrons arrived on station July 20th, and according to the group's sergeant major and executive officer, are ready for WTI action.

More than 600 Marines from MWSS-473 and MWSG-47 were activated in February of this year. MWSG-47 went to MCAS Miramar to fill in for MWSG- 37, which was deployed to Iraq. MWSS-473 was activated to fill in for MWSS-373, at Miramar and MWSS-372 at Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton.

According to Sgt. Maj. William Kay, MWSG-47 command sergeant major, the group plans on staying in Yuma until the end of WTI about Oct. 26 and another week or two to get their gear together and make any necessary repairs. Then the Marines will head home, unless called for another operation or exercise somewhere else.

MWSS-473 is made up of reservists Marines from Fresno, Calif., Dallas/Fort Worth and MCAS Miramar, along with some Inspector and Instructor staff (active duty Marines attached to reserve commands).

According to Col. Mike Thorsby, executive officer of MWSG-47, the unit's primary mission while in Yuma is to provide aviation ground support during WTI.

"This includes establishing and operating Forward Arming Refueling Points. We will be conducting 30-plus FARP sites," said Thorsby.

"WTI is an absolutely outstanding opportunity for us. There has never been any MWSS within 4th (Marine Air Wing) to do WTI as aviation ground support," he said.

"Hopefully this will lead to future WTI exercises for us," Thorsby added. "We can provide some relief for MWSS-371. Now that (the Marine Corps) has another squadron exposed to WTI, we can work in a partnership with (MWSG-37) and 3rd MAW, and relieve some of the pain."

Thorsby said the group has gained a lot of experience recently and he feels it is well-prepared for the unique challenges of the WTI mission ahead.

"It's a very experienced squadron. They've worked together on past exercises (consistently) since February at (Camp) Pendleton and Miramar, and periodically at (Auxiliary Airfield II, south east of the station)," he said.

"This has been great in that we've been a part of every process, from the very first initial planning conference to the execution phases. Now I've got an entire staff that will have been through it all. When you can do an exercise from cradle to grave, you've seen it all. That's the value we can use in the future. There might be some things that will go wrong, but that's all experience too."

Thorsby stressed the importance of perfect performance and safety while operating a FARP, because of the inherent dangers involved. Any mishap at a FARP could be catastrophic.

"There's a lot of moving parts, because you're dealing with fuel, aircraft, and even weapons. You don't want anything to go wrong," he said.

The unit's secondary mission while on station is to aid station Installation and Logistics and MWSS-371. They have been assisting MWSS-371 by repairing the unit's vehicles, such as humvees and five-ton trucks, and have helped the station in numerous ways.

"In addition to WTI support, we're also availing ourselves to the station I&L for any projects; such as moving earth, building, or re-wiring; that might be available," said Thorsby.

He explained that his unit has been taking on station projects by providing manpower and equipment, as long as I&L provides the fuel and material. An example of this cooperation is part of the ongoing base beautification project. MWSS-473's engineers plan to build brick walls around some of the dumpsters so they're hidden from plain view.

"Col. (James J.) Cooney, (station commanding officer), and Maj. (John) Capps, (logistics officer) with I&L, have been working with our staff, seeing what projects we can help them with," Thorsby said, also stressing that the projects his Marines are tasked with are not taking away from any civilian contracts.

They have also been clearing out remnants of old buildings on station. This both eliminates an eyesore and is a good opportunity for junior Marines to get some stick time in a safe environment.


Corporal Aaron Viana, combat engineer, Marine Wing Support Squadron-473, shovels sand Sept. 3 while constructing the foundation for a dumpster encasing behind the enlisted mess hall here. Viana is an activated reservist out of Ft. Worth, Texas.
Photo by: Cpl. Daniel Thomas