MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- Marine Air Control Squadron 1, Detachment C, left for Iraq Tuesday augmented by Marines from Detachment A, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., and Detachment B, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif.
Detachment C was in Iraq approximately five months ago. This time, they will support 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, relieving another MACS-1 detachment to provide air traffic control for coalition aircraft in the War on Terror.
"ATC is out there to provide safe expeditionary air traffic services to the wing units over there,” said Master Sgt. Michael S. Dalton, MACS-1 Detachment C staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge. “That's the whole reason we exist."
This deployment will be a little different from the last due to a manpower shortage, said Dalton.
"Our mission will be exactly the same except this time, we won’t have Headquarters Detachment," said Dalton, a Jackson, Ohio, native. "They are not there to support us like they did last time. They were a great asset to us because of the support they provided."
However, it is nothing to worry about, said Capt. Jeff Meeker, MACS-1 Detachment C commanding officer.
"We have a pretty good idea of what to expect," said Meeker. "I've got good leadership from the SNCOIC down to the section heads. The senior Marines have been there before and know their jobs."
Dalton agreed that going alone is nothing to frown upon, but something to look forward to.
"I think we are going to learn a lot of lessons by doing things on our own, and we are going to get schooled up on a lot of things that we are not familiar with as a detachment,” Dalton said.
Lance Cpl. Lisa-Marie Chavez, MACS-1 administrative clerk, and native of Merced, Calif., said because she is the only admin clerk who left with the detachment, she will have a lot of responsibility. This, her first deployment, will give her a chance to master her job field, because she will be handling most of the administrative work on her own.
One of the detachment’s goals is to provide the Marines with more quality training in the tower and the radar room, said Dalton.
“One of the few things we can improve on is our air traffic control training,” said Dalton. “We're taking a reduced number of bodies on each deployment and we're finding out that we are taking Marines who aren’t as qualified as they could be. We will train them in a deployed environment, which is different for an ATC detachment."
"One thing that came out of our last trip to Iraq was that we were able to some training and get Marines qualified on positions that you wouldn't normally with a deployed unit," Meeker added. "They became certified tower operators, which is a Federal Aviation Administration recognized designation. A lot of it has to do with the operating conditions. Some of the special procedures relate specifically to the Iraqi air space."
Dalton said this is what he looks forward to the most because the detachment as a whole is always striving for improvement.
“It's going to be challenging, but we're going to be learning lessons with all our Marines and will come back as a better detachment. I'm looking forward to doing as good of a job, if not better, as what we did last time.”