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Aviation Combat Element Keeps BSRF Aloft

US Marine Corps News

5/17/2012 By Cpl. Paul Zellner, Black Sea Rotational Force

MIHAIL KOGALNICEANU, Romania — Approximately 350 Marines and sailors with Black Sea Rotational Force 12 are well into their six-month deployment which includes training exercises with 19 nations planned throughout the Black Sea, Balkan and Caucasus regions.

Getting to and from these locations could be a tricky situation if it weren’t for the nearly 50 Marines and two KC-130 Hercules aircraft, that make up the Aviation Combat Element, tasked with getting the Marines of BSRF 12 and their training partners to their designated location.

“The ACE is critical to the BSRF 12 mission because of the transportation aspect,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Pearse G. Kearns, maintenance chief, ACE, BSRF 12.

“We supply the airlift to move personnel and equipment at a much faster pace with nearly limitless capabilities.”

The Black Sea Rotational Force 12 is a Special-Purpose MAGTF with crisis response capabilities deployed to the region to enhance interoperability, promote regional stability and build camaraderie amongst the forces.

“This gives us the unique opportunity to insert an evacuation control center in a safe and quick manner,” said 1st Lt. Greg G. Kilcheski, assistant maintenance officer, ACE, BSRF 12. “We can then make several runs evacuating hundreds of people within a 24 hour period if necessary.”

The ACE also has a maintenance section responsible for the upkeep of the airplanes. The Marines of the maintenance section check the planes before and after every mission is flown. They are capable of performing any and all mechanical work needed onsite.

“We make sure the aircraft is well-maintained, checked and safe to fly,” said Lance Cpl. Christopher S. Poplaski, airframe mechanic, ACE, BSRF 12. “We’re here to support, so we have to do our job as thoroughly and efficiently as possible in order to keep the birds in the air and assist others in accomplishing their mission.”

Their work doesn’t go unnoticed as they work sometimes long and irregular hours to keep the BSRF 12 mission aloft.

“These man and women are doing a phenomenal job,” said Kearns. “The long days are appreciated because they are what keep us ready to go at a moment’s notice.”

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