Aviation ordnance Marines ensure aircraft are fit for flight

By Cpl. Nathan Wicks, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION, IWAKUNI, Japan -- Aviation ordnance Marines with Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 225 are receiving, equipping and inspecting F/A-18D Hornets at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, to support exercise Cope North, scheduled for Feb. 8 - March 8, 2017.

 Cope North is a multi-national, bilateral training event including the U.S. Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, Royal Australian Air Force, and Japan Air Self-Defense Force. 

Aside from equipping aircraft with munitions, the aviation ordnance Marines' job includes inspecting aircraft prior to take off to ensure that nothing will compromise the safety of the aircraft or pilot.

"We armed the jets and conducted safety checks," said U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Joel Pozosrodriguez, aviation ordnance Marine with VMFA-(AW)-225. "The quality assurance safety observer verifies the entire aircraft is safe for flight."

The job not only requires technical skill, but also years of experience ensuring the pilot's aircraft are fit for flight.

"There's not a set syllabus for a safety flight check," said U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Christopher Edwards, quality assurance safety observer with VMFA-(AW)-225. "It's more of an experience related task. I've been doing this for about four years. I know what I'm looking for as far as missing screws, loose bolts, secure caps and anything that would endanger the aircraft as it flies. Is anything going to fall off the aircraft? Is anything going to damage the aircraft? That's what I'm asking myself and visually verifying. I'm looking for anything that may have been over-looked."

The Marines said no matter where they are, they are able to do what is expected of them. Without them, the aircraft would not be able to operate to the best of its ability.

"It's our job to be expeditious and go where our country needs us to go," said Edwards. "Everything we can do here we can do anywhere else. It's just a different environment. The primary job of the F-18 is close air support. We are the ones who load up the bombs and arm the aircraft. It can't do what it was meant to do without us."

Pozosrodriguez said he is excited to continue doing his job and meeting with the other nations.

"I'm looking forward to the missile shoot and interacting with Australians," said Pozosrodriguez. "I've never met anyone from Australia so I'm excited to see how they are and to train with them."