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Support squadron 'lightens' load for Harrier mechanics in Afghanistan

US Marine Corps News

By Pfc. Sean Dennison, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Fwd)

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- Every hour a Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier spends in the Afghan skies providing close-air support for troops on the ground requires many more hours of work for aviation mechanics and maintainers.

“Maintenance is 24/7,” said Gunnery Sgt. Noel Mallari, an AV-8B airframes mechanic with Marine Attack Squadron 513. “From sunup to sundown, we’re always working.”

But until recently, the Marines who maintain the Harriers of VMA-513, deployed to Kandahar Airfield, ran into a challenge each night. The shades which kept the jets protected from the Afghan sun also kept them in the dark under Afghan stars.

So, the Marines of Marine Wing Support Squadron 272 installed a total of 20 1,000-watt lights on the sunshades covering the Harriers deployed from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz..

Previously, the Marines relied on mobile floodlights to work at night, but the new lighting system eliminates such a need.

“Providing this type of light to the aircraft is safer and more efficient,” said Mallari, who is also the site commandant for the Harrier squadron, and a Riverside, Calif., native.

The lighting project is but one example of what support squadron, deployed from Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C.,contribute to 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), and also illustrates the versatility of which the support squadron is capable.

“Our mission is to go out there and support anyone who needs help,”said Sgt. Brehan Harvill, an MWSS-272 utilities floor chief and Pittsburg, Kan., native. “We work 24/7 because maintenance is 24/7. There is no ‘I can’t do it’. You have to find a way to fix it.”

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