Coming out of high school, I didn’t want to
go into debt from college, so I wanted to go
into the military for the benefits, the G.I.
Bill. I picked the Marine Corps because it’s
the hardest one. Gotta go big or go home.
I thought the military would be a great opportu-
nity to see a bunch of places. I’ve gone to at least five
different countries I wouldn’t have if I just stayed in
I’ve always liked the maintenance side of things.
I originally was looking in to being an automotive
mechanic. The recruiter told me about aircraft me-
chanic, and I was like, “That sounds really cool. I
want to do that.”
I would help my dad with the car, and I had auto-
motive for all four years in high school. I really like
working with my hands. I also was in art, being cre-
ative. I thought [aviation] was a growing industry. I
thought, I can go anywhere in the world.
I signed a contract as an aircraft mechanic, but I
didn’t know what aircraft. When they told me [it was
the V- 22], I was actually shocked. For my schooling
and for my field, I just go straight to New River [Marine
Corps Air Station]. To have an aircraft that is designed
like a helicopter but can fly like an airplane, I thought
was very interesting. In a way, it covered both sections
of helicopter mechanic and airplane, so you have a taste
of both worlds.
We get in the fleet faster than all the other airplane
crew chiefs. By the time I was at my sixth-month mark
in the Marine Corps, I was already in the fleet. Everything
was pretty quick. Getting in the fleet, I learned a lot more
a lot quicker, because it’s more hands-on. When you get
out in the fleet, you hit the ground running.
I requested West Coast, but I was sent there [to
Okinawa, Japan]. That’s where the demand was. Once
I got there — I’d be there two years — I just accepted
it. The island was beautiful. That was some of the best
times I’ve had in the Marine Corps. I experienced a lot.
The pace was busy, but we also did get down-
time. In Okinawa, we get the MEU [31st Marine
Expeditionary Unit] every year. When we’re not on
the MEU, we’d go in dets [detachments] and we’d go
almost every month. I did the humanitarian [opera-
tion] for the Philippines, and we went to Guam and
mainland Japan for some airshows.
I didn’t get to see much [of the Philippines] when
they would fly delivering food, I was just on the main-
tenance side of it. It was busy because we had to get
the aircraft up to make sure they could get food. It was
slightly chaotic, but the shop we had had a really good
flow and we were able to handle it. Before an aircraft
would fly, we’d do daily inspections. I was entry to the
shop, so we would do “specials” — hourly, daily — like
washing the aircraft, inspecting certain components.
Missions, training or any of that, there’s always a
safety aspect. That’s the most important thing working
on these aircraft. Now that I am more qualified with
aircraft inspections and working on components, that
is the key thing. It’s got to be done correctly and safe.
I’ve been part of the Phase Division about a year
and a half. Once an aircraft has a certain amount of
[flight] hours, it goes through a very heavy inspection.
We take everything apart and we inspect all the components, fix the discrepancies that we find, put it back
together and overlook it again to make sure everything
is done safe and there’s nothing left behind, and it
goes back out to do missions.
It’s every 280 hours that we do a phase. It just var-ies, the components that get inspected.
We have nine Marines. It’s always constant training. It’s a good flow for the work that we do. Every day
would be different, but from phase to phase it’s the
same stuff. It’s typically two weeks, if everything goes
right. It’s a lot of understanding how long it takes a
task to complete. I’ve got a pretty good grasp of how
long something should take.
Marine Cpl. Raina Roberts
MV- 22 FLIGHT LINE MECHANIC
MARINE MEDIUM TILTROTOR SQUADRON 166
MIRAMAR MARINE CORPS AIR STATION, SAN DIEGO
PROFILES IN SERVICE