Photo Information

Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Edison M. Vargas hauls his extra trash to the dumpsters while moving out of his living quarters at Al Asad, Iraq, Sept. 4. Vargas is a corpsman with the Incident Response Platoon, Marine Wing Support Squadron 274, Marine Wing Support Group 37 (Reinforced), 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward). He is a native of Washington, D.C.

Photo by Cpl. James B. Hoke

Ironmen finish deployment, prepare to head home

15 Sep 2006 | Cpl. James B. Hoke

The Marines of the Incident Response Platoon, Engineers Platoon, Expeditionary Airfields, Hot Pits and many other aviation ground support platoons within Marine Wing Support Squadron 274 have been in the slow transition of turning their jobs over to their replacements.

The squadron conducted their Transfer of Authority with Marine Wing Support Squadron 273, Marine Wing Support Group 37 (Reinforced), 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), in Al Asad, Sept. 12, after spending nearly two weeks preparing their replacements to take over the mission.

"Our main mission was to provide aviation ground support to 3rd MAW," said Sgt. Maj. Vincent Claxton, sergeant major, MWSS-274, MWSG-27, 2nd MAW. "I think the Marines have done a great job out here. They were successful. They are definitely looking forward to getting back to their families and their much-deserved leave."

Spending roughly seven months spread out across Al Asad and Western Iraq, the Ironmen of MWSS-274 were able to keep to their motto of Aeternus Adjuvo, "Eternal Support."

"Our biggest accomplishment is that we got a chance to really apply our full team (aviation ground support) function, with everything from refueling and electrical to engineering and motor (transportation) assets," said Claxton, a 46-year-old native of Savannah, Ga. "We don't get to do that as much in garrison. Over here, our services are very much in demand, as we support every flying squadron out here."

One of the main attributes that allowed the squadron to accomplish so much was the leadership they received from their noncommissioned officers, according to Lt. Col. Daniel B. Conley, commanding officer, MWSS-274.

"NCOs leading squads, fire teams and sections accomplished missions across the spectrum of aviation ground support, ground support and combat service support on base and outside the wire that would normally be assigned to staff noncommissioned officers or officers in garrison," said Conley, a 39-year-old native of Falmouth, Mass.

At the end of their deployment, the days of the week seem to grow longer as anticipation edges into the Marines, according to Cpl. William N. Wolbert, licensing instructor, MWSS-274.

"The process of leaving is long," said Wolbert, a 23-year-old native of Sykesville, Md., with a 9-year-old son waiting at home for him. "The flight doesn't come soon enough. There's a lot of moving around and sea bag shuffles. I'm looking forward to seeing my son though and spending time with him."

Although the Marines are looking forward to going home, the imminent departure is bittersweet.

"I'm going to miss the extra pay and dealing with the different nationalities, as we get to see people from all over the world out here," said Wolbert, a South Carroll High School graduate.

The squadron has no doubts their predecessors will be able to support 3rd MAW just as they have.

"MWSS-273 has a great reputation as talented, dedicated professionals," concluded Conley, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. "They are on their second tour at Al Asad and are fully ready and more than able to assume responsibility of providing (aviation ground support) to the MAW. As squadrons before them have done, they will make improvements and hand off a better product than was given to them."