KUNSAN AIR BASE, South Korea -- Marine Wing Support Squadron 171 provided Marines with everything they needed during operation Max Thunder, but most failed to recognize their considerable contribution.
“During Max Thunder, our role is to serve the aviation ground support function for the base commandant, which essentially means that we are ensuring basic life functions of the Marines participating here are fulfilled,” said 1st Lt. Daniele Selli, camp commandant for MWSS-171. “That includes ensuring that billeting is locked on, the chow plan is squared away and transportation is being accounted for.”
Selli added that MWSS-171 was in charge of ensuring that the mess hall was supplied with a sufficient amount of Marines in order to accommodate for the increased number of service members eating their throughout the duration of the exercise.
Selli went on to say that although MWSS-171 was in charge of many tasks, their main two supporting elements for this exercise included heavy equipment operators and fuel support.
“As heavy equipment operators, we came out here as part of the advanced party because we had a lot of gear,” said Sgt. Matthew Faus, a heavy equipment operator with MWSS-171. “We checked out two fork lifts and staged it all before the main body arrived, that way they could hit the ground running. During the deployment, we will offload any flights that come in with cargo and move it to wherever it needs to go. At the end, we have to pull all of the cargo out of the hangers, office spaces or wherever it may be and place it in the staging area, that way, when the birds arrive, we can load them up and take off.”
Faus added that heavy equipment operators are usually busiest at the beginning and end of operations exercises like Max Thunder, but Selli said that the fuels sections is usually busiest during the exercise.
“Our mission while we are here at Max Thunder is to support Marine Aircraft Group 12,” said Staff Sgt. Jesus Granados, fuels chief for MWSS-171. “We do that by refueling the jets as soon as they get back from completing a mission, that way, they can go out there and get more quality training.”
Whenever a jet took off during Exercise Max Thunder, many thought just of the roaring noise above them, but each flight was only possible because of the hard work and dedication Marines with MWSS-171 made every day.