Photo Information

Lance Cpl. Mark Karwatka and Cpl. Joshua Velasquez, motor vehicle operators with Marine Wing Support Squadron 171 hook up a humvee to tow back to their compound in an vehicle recovery exercise near the Combat Center's Noble Pass training area Sept. 11, 2012.

Photo by Lance Cpl. D. J. Wu

MWSS-171 prepares for ITX

13 Aug 2013 | Cpl. Joseph Karwick

Marine Wing Support Squadron 171 prepares to head out to Twentynine Palms for an Integrated Training Exercise to better train its Marines in an expeditionary environment. MWSS-171 plans to deploy its forces to California as a squadron size force.

“The integrated training exercise allows MWSS-171 to deploy as a squadron and accomplish all of its mission essential tasks in a single field training evolution,” said Lt. Col. Howard Eyth, MWSS-171 commanding officer. “The great advantage to our going to ITX this time is that we not only get to fill the aviation ground support role for Marine Aircraft Group 14 during ITX 6-13, but we also get to deploy a large number of our Marines to focus on unit level training.”

With more than 80 military occupational specialties included in MWSS-171, the squadron plans to bring as many as they can for the exercise.

“We need motor transportation assets to transport materials around the forward operating base, engineers to build the berms and station, we need com guys for constant communication,” said Capt. Roy I. Agila, MWSS-171 S-3 officer. “Also, it gives us the chance to go to a place where there is no airfield and set up a FOB so we can maintain the airfield.”

With their area of operations being mainly the south pacific region, MWSS-171 looks to expand their operational capacities in different environments to prepare for any situation.

“We are an aviation ground support unit that does not have a ground location to train on here in Iwakuni,” said Agila. “So we will take every opportunity we can to train in California. In California, there is every opportunity to train in whatever we want to.”

Though MWSS-171 is an aviation support squadron, there are times when aviation support Marines have been called to action on the ground.

“Every Marine is a rifleman, a modern day prime example of that is … Bad guys infiltrated the wire in Camp Bastion, and who stopped them, the air wing guys, not the grunts,” said Maj. Gary F. Humphries, MWSS-171 squadron operations officer.

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