Marine Corps

November 29, 2012

Marines “follow the bomb” with MALS-13

Story and photos by Cpl. Sean Dennison
Desert Warrior Staff
Pfc. Timothy Kulesza, a Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 13 customer support division clerk, weighs an MK-76 inert bomb in his hands during a, “Follow the Bomb,” event at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Nov. 19. Follow the Bomb, which began three years ago, offers non-ordnance Marines a day with MALS-13 ordnance technicians who assemble and distribute the bombs and munitions used by Marine aircraft.

Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 13 ordnance technicians gave station Marines a glimpse of the bread and ballistics of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma’s aviation operations, Nov. 19, during a, “Follow the Bomb,” event.

Follow the Bomb, which began three years ago, provides non-ordnance Marines a chance to spend the day with MALS-13 ordnance technicians, the men and women who assemble and distribute the bombs and munitions used by the aircraft on base, primarily the AV-8B Harriers.

The purpose of this event is to educate the bomb followers on aviation ordnance, a mission-essential task that they indirectly support by merit of them being part of base operations.

The day is exactly like it sounds: Marines witness the assembly and distribution of the bombs, from the MALS-13 ordnance technicians building them to the Marine Attack Squadron ordnance technicians loading the bomb onto the aircraft.

“It provides a different perspective,” said Lance Cpl. Christine Keaney, a Marine Aircraft Group 13 intelligence specialist and a native of Boston. “It’s very interesting to see what goes on behind the scenes. It’s one thing to hear about various aircraft’s armament, but to actually see the components go together, it’s very educational.”

Cpl. Joshua Greer, left, a Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 13 ordnance technician and a native of Houston, and Cpl. Marc Kenney, a MALS-13 ordnance technician and a native of Boston, prepare to move a GBU-16 during a, “Follow the Bomb,” event at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Nov. 19.

The observers watched the MALS-13 ordnance technicians put together GBU-16s, and then traveled to VMA-214 to see the bombs put on an aircraft, where their existence would end once the pilot’s acquired their target.

“It’s a lot more complex than taking bombs out of a box,” said Staff Sgt. Joseph Walsh, the MALS-13 munitions support supervisor. “There’s a lot of work and a lot of man hours.”

MALS-13 ordnance technicians can come into work before sunrise and often leave after sunset; their schedules are dictated by squadron operations and how much ordnance they want to drop, which, according to Walsh, can be anywhere from “2 to 40 bombs a day.”

MALS-13’s ordnance arsenal includes active and inert bombs used for training purposes in order to qualify the pilots to drop ordnance. The technicians see their work being put to use during combat operations, where ordnance saves, and ends, lives.

“I wake up every day knowing what I’ve done has made a difference,” said Walsh. “When you need that airstrike, the feeling comes with building the bomb and seeing it work as advertised.”

The abilities of MALS-13 ordnance technicians also mean they are often called on for deployments, and are thus away from their families for longer stretches of time.

“It makes it more personal,” said Keaney, who, with the others, listened as Walsh related stories from his ordnance deployments, some lasting for more than a year, others lasting for a few months. “It’s one thing to be in the shop reading about these various weapons. To learn how they work . . . I think it will change how I view my job.”

After the Marines followed the bomb to its end point, the underside of a Harrier, they each returned to their respective section, wiser in how aviation operations impact the Corps’ Ground Combat Element.

All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.



Sterling Global Operations completes U.S. Navy project to clear munitions, firing range and target debris from Arizona Marine Corps Air Station range

Sterling Global Operations, Inc., in a two-year project for the U.S. Navy, removed or recycled some 5.9 million pounds of munitions, firing range and target debris from Marine Corps Air Station at Yuma, Ariz. Sterling Global re...

US Army, Raytheon achieve first inflight lethal intercept of low quadrant elevation rocket

YUMA PROVING GROUND, Ariz. – Raytheon successfully intercepted and destroyed a low quadrant elevation 107mm rocket as part of the second series of guided test vehicle flight tests of the Accelerated Improved Intercept Initiative program. The intercept is a major test milestone before the U.S. Army live-fire engagements begin in September. “Beginning only 18 months...

Raytheon, U.S. Army complete first AI3 guided flight test series

Raytheon and the U.S. Army successfully completed the first guided test vehicle flight series of the Accelerated Improved Intercept Initiative program at Yuma Proving Ground, Aris. The series consisted of two flight tests against different target profiles. In each case after launch, the interceptor initially guided on in-flight radio frequency datalink updates from the fire...


New Navy vessel named after Yuma

The U.S. Navy has decided to name one of their newest Joint High-Speed Vessels after the city of Yuma, Ariz., forming an even deeper bond between the local community and our military. Political officials from the state of Arizona and the city of Yuma were informed of the decision by the Honorable Ray Mabus, Secretary...

Joint Strike Fighter on track, costs coming down, Kendall says

Indications are that the F-35 joint strike fighter program — the most expensive aviation program in Defense Department history — is on track, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics told a Senate panel June 19. Testifying before the Senate Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee this morning, Frank Kendall said the F-35 will be...

Joint Light Tactical Vehicle ‘closes capability gap,’ Army says

While the Humvee has served the Army well for some 25 years, there’s a “capability gap” in what it can do for warfighters on a 21st-century battlefield, said the Soldier responsible for overseeing its replacem...


Be the first to comment!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>