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New buildings to simplify missions for Marine Wing Support Squadrons

Marine Corps News

Story Identification #: 2004105165527
Story by Sgt. Cecilia Sequeira

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. -- Congress approved and funded a $7.1 million contract to R.A. Construction Inc. for a Miramar construction project that will improve training and mission accomplishment for two squadrons.

Marine Wing Support Squadron 373, Marine Wing Support Group 37, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, will claim Building 6028, a refueling vehicle maintenance shop, and MWSS-473, Marine Aircraft Group 46, 4th MAW, will take possession of their new equipment shop, Building 6026, when construction is completed Nov. 4.

The squadrons requested these two buildings more than five years ago. "It is such a long period of time between when we submit a request and when it gets approved, and by the time that day comes everyone has kind of forgotten about it. It's a whole new set of people working with the project by the time it comes through," said Donn M. Detmers, engineering section leader, Public Works Division. Even though it is still sorely needed, very few Marines in MWSS-373 even know they will have a new refueling maintenance shop in November.

The refueling vehicle maintenance shop is being built to accommodate MWSS-373's new aviation refueling-capable trucks.

"The old refueling trucks had a separate tractor and tank trailer. When maintenance was required on the tank trailer, it could be separated from the tractor and moved to a special blast-resistant facility with an explosive hazard (clearing) zone to perform the maintenance. The tractor could be moved separately to an ordinary maintenance shop to perform engine repairs that required the use of lifts and bridge cranes," said the Encinitas, Calif., native.

On the new trucks however, both tractor and tank are mounted on a single, non-separable frame, forcing engine maintenance to be performed in the same blast-resistant facility with the safety space required for tank maintenance.

The new refueling vehicle maintenance shop solves the problem by incorporating the safety features of a refueling tank trailer repair shop with the bridge crane and heavy truck lift required for complete engine overhauls and components' replacement.

MWSS-473's need for a new equipment shop is no less mission-critical. "Right now, we have a basic maintenance facility-- it's just a little better than a maintenance tent in the field," said Gunnery Sgt. James G. Batty, maintenance staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge, MWSS-473.

Walking into the shop brings to mind an old, over-stuffed, dusty warehouse. There are storage bins stacked upon storage bins, which rest upon yet another set of storage bins. The lack of space is remarkable, and although the Marines clean it regularly, they fight daily piles of dust from the open area. "We have a really bad mouse problem here, too," said Sgt. Christian M. Marinello, engineer operator, MWSS-473.

Discomfort aside, there are several problems with the area that effect unit readiness. As a reserve squadron, MWSS-473 is required to conduct job training for reservists during weekend commitments.

The only classroom the shop has for this kind of instruction is a five-by-ten-foot open space in front of a white board mounted to storage bins. The squadron borrows another squadron's washing station and vehicle lift capabilities, and uses an unpaved lot to store their vehicles. "You'd be surprised how much dirt and dust causes a vehicle to corrode," said Batty.

The new building will have a classroom "with a state-of-the-art built-in projector, seating for 35 Marines, a "smart board," and video capabilities. We could be in our classroom teaching, and our instruction can be broadcast to another location," said Batty.

"The most important things are the classroom, wash rack, paved lot, and vehicle lift capabilities. All the extra offices are great, but they're just icing on the cake compared to the rest," said the Redmond, Ore., native.

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