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VMFA-314 Ordnance shop keeps pilots flying high, Marines alive

Marine Corps News

Story Identification #: 200555195228
Story by Lance Cpl. James B. Hoke

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. (April 27, 2005) -- One of the main objectives of Marine fighter attack aircraft is to assist ground troops in combat operations. Without ordnance, the aircraft wouldn't have a real purpose during combat missions.

Ordnance Marines with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314, Marine Aircraft Group 11, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, have the job of keeping the F/A-18C Hornets fully loaded with the armaments they need to be effective.

"The primary mission of ordnance is to support ground forces and make sure we can get the bombs where they need to be when they need to be there," said Lance Cpl. Kevin J. Slimmen, aviation ordnance technician, VMFA-314. "This includes making sure all the jets in our squadron are ready to fly and carry out the mission of the squadron at any given time."

According to Pfc. Jared L. MacDonald, aviation ordnance technician, VMFA-314, dropping ordnance could almost be presumed as the mission of the squadron.

"We are the reason all these jets are out here, as they directly support ground operations," said MacDonald. "If we didn't have any ordnance, there would be no reason for those jets to fly."

Although ordnance is often dangerous to handle in a combat zone, at Miramar the ordnance Marines load practice bombs and missiles into the aircraft for training.

"There are many types of ordnance, but we load inert ordnance here," said Slimmen. "It helps the pilots, as well as us, so that when it is time to do the real thing, we all know what to do."

However, there is more to ordnance than just loading and unloading bombs, missiles and rounds into an aircraft.

"Constantly, there is something that needs to be cleaned and checked every five to seven days," said MacDonald. "We have to fit maintenance in between loading and unloading ordnance. When the jets aren't flying, we make sure all the equipment is clean and is working properly."

According to MacDonald, the ordnance Marines take their job very seriously because the slightest mistake could cost the lives of many Marines.

"If we didn't get something loaded in time or a bomb doesn't drop for some reason, Marines could die really quick," MacDonald concluded. "This is why ordnance must be done fast and done correctly. There is only one shot at this."

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