HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan — Marines with Detachment A, Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 352, primarily spend their day patrolling the skies of Afghanistan as an in-flight gas station for other aircraft. However, a five-man crew successfully completed a slightly different mission, Sept. 6.
The KC-130J team spent the morning escorting four MV-22 Ospreys with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261 from Helmand province, Afghanistan, to the USS Iwo Jima in the Arabian Sea.
“Our primary mission in Afghanistan is aerial refueling,” said Capt. G. O. Ryberg, a pilot with VMGR-352 and a native of Oceanside, Calif. “But today, we were a contingency for the Ospreys.”
The KC-130 aircraft is able to carry several thousand gallons of fuel while in flight. Additionally, with multiple radios, the plane is able to act as an onscene commander in the event an aircraft makes an emergency landing.
Although the Ospreys did not require aerial refueling on their movement from Afghanistan to the ship, having the VMGR-352 aircraft leading the way allowed them to rest easy during the approximate hour and a half flight.
During the flight, Lance Cpls. Christopher Jones, a Freemont, Neb., native, and Jamie Nadeau, a Margate, Fla., native, were the pilots’ eyes in the rear of the plane. The Marines ensured the Ospreys maintained enough separation and had no obvious mechanical issues.
“These guys are instrumental,” said Capt. John Brampton, a pilot with VMGR-352 and a native of Wilmington, N.C. “On these flights, they sit in the window and make sure there is not excessive closure. It’s a very important job.”
“I haven’t done a mission like this before,” said Jones. “This was pretty cool. It’s always nice to see different sites.”
After ensuring the Ospreys made it to the USS Iwo Jima, the KC-130J made a quick turn and headed back to Camp Bastion to prepare for another day of supporting Regional Command Southwest.
Doing the escort mission was a nice change of pace for the crew, and it was completed flawlessly.
“The mission went extremely well,” Ryberg said. “The transit south was easy, and linking up with the Ospreys went very smooth. Overall, it was a great day.”