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The Caretaker: Crew Chief

By Lance Cpl. Carl King | 10th Marine Regiment | August 11, 2016

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U.S. Marines of all ages with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, operate and maintain MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft every day. The Marines, currently in the Philippines, have been working day and night in support of Air Assault Support Exercise 16.2.

Bilateral engagements such as AASE 16.2 are focused on improving interoperability and readiness of forces. These activities ensure U.S. and Philippine forces are capable of integrating effectively to conduct both humanitarian assistance and regional security missions.

Though most crew chiefs are young in age, they receive an extensive amount of training before they are allowed to operate in the fleet.

“I was a little surprised when I first learned the age in which they trusted crew chiefs to maintain some of the very complex systems and components on the aircraft, but they are all very intelligent and extremely qualified,” said Capt. Charles Randolph, a pilot with VMM-265. “I trust them.”

Potential crew chiefs attend approximately two years of training before performing their job in real operations.

The first school aspiring crew chiefs attend is the Naval Aviation Air Crewman Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida. Next they attend the Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) School in Brunswick, Maine, followed by the school for the specific aircraft they will be assigned to.

“The SERE school teaches us what to do if our plane were to go down behind enemy lines,” said Cpl. Ryan Reuscher, a crew chief with VMM-265. “Pensacola is where we actually get assigned a platform and learn which type of aircraft we will actually be serving on when we hit the fleet.”

Crew chiefs go through an extensive amount of training because they play a huge role in the operation of aircraft. The Marines maintain parts on the aircraft and are also responsible for all activity in the rear cargo area of the aircraft, specifically if any passengers are onboard.

With the pilot only having a certain amount of visibility while in the cockpit, the crew chiefs serve as the eyes of the pilot in the places that can’t be seen.

“As a crew chief we are mostly responsible for what happens in the back of the plane. So the pilots fly and we are there to back them up,” said Reuscher, a native of Kansas City. “In a real world mission setting, we would also play a big part in inserting and extracting personnel and disaster relief operations.”

According to Capt. Randolph, the Marines are constantly working on the aircraft, making sure every part of the aircraft is working to perfection.

“These Marines are some of the hardest working devil dogs you are going to see in the Marine Corps,” said Randolph, a native of Charlottesville, Virginia. “These guys are constantly putting in 12 to 13 hours a day. Day in and day out, rain or shine they are working their butts off to make sure these planes are up and ready for the mission.”


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