MALS-16 earns recognition as best DoD maintenance unit

11 Sep 2009 | Cpl. Fredrick J. Coleman

Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 16, or the “Forerunners,” will receive recognition as one of the best maintenance units in the Department of Defense.

The squadron will receive the 2009 Secretary of Defense Maintenance Award in the medium category on Sept. 28, for the second time in three years.

“This accomplishment is a statement of the incredible small unit leadership within the squadron,” said Lt. Col. Luis E. Ortiz, the MALS-16 commanding officer.

The award period covers Oct. 1, 2007, to Sept. 30, 2008. During this time, the squadron amassed more than 25,000 maintenance man-hours per month and approximately 300,000 hours for the year, according to Ortiz.

As a result, the squadron was able to support flight operations that totaled more than 7,500 flight hours stateside and more than 57,000 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

MALS-16 deployed in support of OIF from January 2008 to January 2009. MALS-16 (Reinforced) conducted a merger with MALS-11 after the Forerunners’ main body departed to Al Asad Air Base, Iraq.

While in Iraq, MALS-16 deployed more than 1,200 Marines and integrated personnel from eight logistics squadrons, according to the award submission.

The squadron deployed a detachment of Marines to Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, from August 2008 to February 2009, while supporting the aviation element of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit during Operation Enduring Freedom.

The squadron also provided intermediate level maintenance and supply support for the MV-22 Osprey’s first combat deployment.

In addition to the Osprey, the squadron supported more than 130 aircraft, from 22 flying squadrons with 12 different aircraft types.

“The Marines did an excellent job of finding new ways to get the job done while keeping the safety and well-being of their squadron mates as first priority,” said Ortiz.

For the individual Marine to do his job, the support of his or her family becomes paramount to mission accomplishment, according to Ortiz.

“This award isn’t possible without the unparalleled support of the families,” said Ortiz.

Representatives from the squadron will receive the award during the Secretary of Defense Maintenance Awards banquet in Phoenix, Oct. 28.