KUWAIT -- Marines from Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 16 are doing their part to keep the CH-53E Super Stallions flying high at an air base here.
Engine mechanics for the CH-53E have worked long hours through the spring heat and sand storms to support Marine Aircraft Group 39.
Before Operation Iraqi Freedom, mechanics were working long hours to get the squadron ready for missions.
"We were working night and day," said Cpl. Colby R. Yard, engine mechanic with MALS-16.
"We had a day crew and a night crew," said Yard, a native of LaHarpe, Ill. "Sometimes the day crew would stay at night and the night crew would stay during the day."
When there is a problem with an engine the mechanics are called out to the flight line for a "trouble call." The mechanics check out the engine and determine whether or not the engine can be fixed or if it needs to be replaced. If the engine needs to be replaced the mechanics must do a Quick Engine Change.
According to Yard, a QEC involves switching out an old engine with a new engine. The process takes 8 to 10 hours to complete.
The harsh conditions of the desert increase the mechanics workload.
"The demand on the engines dictates our workload," said Staff Sgt. John Humphrey, power plant Staff Noncommissioned Officer-In-Charge with MALS-16. "We work until the job is done."
The sand also erodes the engine. Erosion is the leading cause of an engine malfunction, said Humphrey, a native of Littleton, Colo.
The engine crew is unable to repair the faulty engines in Kuwait because they do not have the tools and engine parts that they have at Marine Air Corps Station Miramar, San Diego, Calif. According to Yard, the faulty engines are sent back to Italy, Okinawa, Japan or America to be fixed.
In the United States the crew is able to do intermediate level maintenance on the engines.
"We tear (the engines) all the way down and overhaul them," said Cpl. Ron Russell, a MALS-16 engine mechanic and a native of Kalispell, Mont. With the proper tools the trio can diagnose and fix almost any problem.
The mechanics have worked hard in the harsh desert conditions and even though the war is nearly over MALS-16 is still working 12 hours a day to make sure the Super Stallions are in good working order.