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The right tool for the job

By Pfc. Robert L. Botkin | | January 19, 2006

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Finding the right tool for the job can sometimes be as difficult as searching for a needle in a haystack.

Keeping track of all of the tools can be even more difficult, especially when so many look alike and each tool kit contains such a large number of tools.

These are just two of the challenges the Marines of the Marine Attack Squadron 311 tool room face every day.

“We ensure readiness for the squadron and make sure that any and all shops have whatever tools they need to get their job done, whether it’s from small wire pliers to big torque wrenches.” said Cpl. Brandon J. Gallagher, VMA-311 tool room noncommissioned officer-in-charge and native of Livermore, Calif.

Each shop has its own tool boxes that are checked out from the tool room on a regular basis, but sometimes other tools are needed for special work that needs to be done, said Gallagher.

“If there’s anything they need that we don’t happen to have, we make sure that they get it,” said Gallagher.

Accounting for each tool is a large part of their job, as they need to ensure that proper tool control is maintained, said Lance Cpl. Richard T. Earl, VMA-311 tool room clerk and native of Spartanburg, S.C.

“Tool control is making sure that the hangar deck, as well as the flightline and jets themselves, stay (foreign objects and debris) free,” said Gallagher.

A complete inventory of every tool is conducted at least four times a day, said Gallagher. The tools are counted once in the morning, twice as the day shift leaves and the night shift takes over, and once at the end of the night shift.

If a tool is missing, it becomes a major problem due to the safety of the pilots, as well as the cost of each aircraft, said Gallagher.

Once a tool is reported missing all operations in and around the hangar come to a complete standstill while the chain of command is notified, said Gallagher.

Once the proper administrative action has been taken, a FOD walk is conducted to try to find the tool in and around the hangar, and every aircraft is searched to make sure the tool was not accidentally sealed inside, which could cause severe damage to the aircraft, said Gallagher. This goes on until the tool is found or the safety of the Marines working on and in the aircraft is ensured.

Making sure that every tool is in proper working order is also a responsibility of the tool room staff.

Tools are regularly checked for proper calibration and corrosion control measures are taken on a regular basis, said Gallagher.

Some of the more advanced testing kits require so much maintenance and calibration that at least one Marine during each shift is devoted entirely to Individual Material Readiness List tools, said Cpl. Lewis Guy, VMA-311 IMRL manager and native of Killien, Texas.

Guy is in charge of ensuring that all of the test kits are in proper working order, as well as ensuring that they do not exceed their authorized limits for each test kit.

The squadron is only allowed to have a certain number of each test kit in order to ensure that supplies are not stretched too thin throughout the Marine Corps, said Guy.

While not the most glamorous job in the squadron, the tool room staff said they still take pride in knowing that without them, the safety and operational efficiency of the squadron would be hampered, if not brought to a complete halt.
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