Updates | Cherry Point

F35 Rapid Response Team Mechanics Prepared to Deploy

January 08, 2020

 
Photo of FRC East F-35 repair team

By Heather Wilburn, FRC East

CHERRY POINT — When issues arise with an F-35 Lightning II, a team of highly skilled aircraft maintenance professionals stands ready to rise to the challenge and get the jet back in the fight.

Whether the aircraft requires in-service repair or battle damage needs mending, the F-35 Rapid Response Team is ready to pack up and go, according to a recent release from Fleet Readiness Center East.

“Anything that happens outside the depot – for the Navy, Marines or Air Force – anywhere around the world, they call us and we can deploy these RRT team members at a moment’s notice. We go out to wherever that site may be and perform that repair,” said David Thorpe, F-35 branch head at FRC-East, where the team is headquartered.

The RRT consists of expert, cross-trained artisans who hold journey-level, expert status in at least one trade, and no lower than skilled, worker-level status in others. Having team members with multiple skill sets allows for flexibility when determining which configuration of the team to deploy, Mr. Thorpe said.

“The F-35 Rapid Response Team is like a maintenance and repair special operations force,” he explained. “The concept is that we can send fewer people and they can help each other do the work.”

The flexible configuration means the team can pick and choose which artisans to deploy to a mission, based on what the technical requirements will be. Some jobs require more expertise in certain trades than others. For example, a recent RRT mission to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., called for a dedicated low observable coating technician and a painter. Those skills sets aren’t required for every mission but were necessary in this instance because the repair required high expertise in reapplying the coating.

“Sometimes the team is not just the airframer, sheet metal mechanic and electrician. Sometimes we send the painter, or the LO technician,” Mr. Thorpe said. “We also have quality assurance specialists who are ready to go when depot-level quality needs are required to incorporate the repair and sign it off.”

Richard Lee Stiver Jr., an RRT airframes mechanic, agrees cross-training plays a large role in the team’s success.

“You have to know the airplane,” he said. “I’m airframes, sheet metal, and LO-qualified. We have to have the drive and understanding to do the things we’re tasked to do, and we also have to be able to retain the knowledge from all the trades across the board that we need to know. That plays a huge role in our success as a team: knowing each other’s jobs, and the ability for us to work together.”

The recent mission to Edwards involved a repair in a location that presented accessibility challenges and therefore also required expertise in low observable coating and paint restoration. The team had to remove a large panel from the aircraft in order to complete the repair – a panel that was not designed for removal under normal maintenance action, Mr. Thorpe said.

“A lot had to work in concert to get that aircraft back to a mission-capable status. We’ve got a lot of experience in taking off these big panels and putting them back down, but there are often complications involved in that,” he said of the repair, which involved an aircraft in the F-35 initial testing, operation and evaluation program with Navy Test and Evaluation Squadron 9, Det. Edwards.

“There were a lot of unknowns, because this particular skin removal hadn’t been done previously, but we were able to get the job done without many complications,” Mr. Thorpe continued. Engineers supply the team with the appropriate technical data prior to the mission, and that provides a solid jumping-off point; however, work doesn’t always go as planned, especially with first-time repairs.

“We ran into hiccups, just like with anything that’s never been done before, and we worked through them,” he said. “It was pretty difficult, but we wanted to keep our foot on the gas. Our team worked long hours and weekends to produce a quality product, safely and as quickly as possible, to support the warfighter and meet the mission – and we got really good reviews on the finished product.”

The unknowns of each mission are part of what drives the team to work harder, Mr. Stiver added.

“Not knowing what you’re getting into, and being able to push through it, stand back at the end and say, ‘That was a good time,’ is one of the most rewarding aspects of the job,” he said. “This feels a lot better than going somewhere for 30 days and doing a mundane fix. We thrive on the challenge.”

Source: CarolinaCoastOnline.com

 

Tillis Secures $1.8 Billion for NC Military Installations in Defense Authorization Legislation

December 12, 2019

 

On December 11, 2019,  Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, secured the authorization of $1.821 billion for North Carolina military installations in the final National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020. The legislation passed out of conference committee on a bipartisan basis includes funding for Hurricane Florence recovery.

“North Carolina’s military installations continue to play a crucial role in protecting the United States against threats all across the world,” said Senator Tillis. “I’m proud that I was able to secure more than $1.8 billion in authorized funding for North Carolina, which will support our brave men and women in uniform and help Camp Lejeune recover from the devastation caused by Hurricane Florence.”

Sources: tillis.senate.gov, wcti12.com

 

GOVERNOR ROY COOPER TOURS MCAS CHERRY POINT AND FRC EAST

November 13, 2019

 

From Carteret County News-Times
November 12, 2019

CHERRY POINT — Gov. Roy Cooper paid his first visit as governor to Fleet Readiness Center East aboard Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point to tour the depot’s facility and discuss workforce development Tuesday.

FRC East is the maintenance, repair, overhaul and technical services provider for Marine and naval aircraft aboard Cherry Point. With around 4,200 employees, it is the largest industrial employer in the region, generating more than $720 million in annual revenue.

As part of his tour of the facility, Gov. Cooper met members of FRC East’s first class of apprentices under the National Apprenticeship Program. The four-year program, which welcomed about 40 apprentices in August, offers participants a combination of education and on-the-job training. The apprentices receive free schooling and work as full-time federal employees with pay and benefits, and will be offered jobs at FRC East upon successful completion of the program.

“Some of them (apprentices) are veterans who retired and decided that they want to come back and do this kind of work. There are people who just graduated from high school and are working in an apprenticeship to get the kind of credentials that they need for a good paying job,” Gov. Cooper said during his tour Tuesday. “I’ve talked to people who started out here as artisans and have worked their way up to managing a lot of employees, so there’s clearly opportunity for advancement here, and I think there’s a lot of pride in the work that they do because of the importance of it, but also they’re grateful to get this kind of training that gives them the support they need for their families.”

John Olmstead, public affairs officer for FRC East, said if the first year of the apprenticeship program proves successful, the depot will consider continuing it in future years. More than 380 applicants vied for 40 spots in the program, and 37 apprentices are now receiving education and training.

The governor spoke highly of FRC East, especially as it relates to job creation and supporting economic development in eastern North Carolina.

“This is a hidden gem in eastern North Carolina for good jobs for everyday people,” he said. “…These are the kind of jobs we want North Carolina families to have, where you can make a good living. But it also requires some expertise, and this is why we’ve got to continue to invest in education across our state, because making sure that this workforce is ready, not only for commerce in our area, but this workforce is ready to defend our country. That is critical, and it’s exciting the work that’s been done here.”

Calee Holmes is one of the participants in the National Apprenticeship Program and said the fact Gov. Cooper has taken an interest in FRC East validates the work she and her fellow apprentices do aboard the air station.

“It makes me feel great that I’ve made it this far and that people are actually appreciating what we do,” she said. “…We’re being taught a trade that, unless you’ve been in the military, you’re not going to learn, so me being a stay-at-home mom and being brought out here and being taught from the ground up is unbelievable.”

Gov. Cooper also spoke on the state’s recent investment of $5 million for development of the F-35 Lightning II aircraft at Cherry Point. The F-35 is the military’s next-generation fighter aircraft with three distinct variants, and FRC East is the primary repair and maintenance depot for the F-35B variant. It can also service the A and C variants, and last year, FRC East achieved a milestone when it serviced and returned all three variants of the aircraft.

“I was a strong supporter of that effort for the state of North Carolina to come in and to provide funding because we needed to close the gap and make sure that it was happening here in North Carolina,” Gov. Cooper said. “I think you’re going to see the rest of the country, also private business, looking to FRC East to provide help for them. They know they can get great work here done on time, so I think having this facility here, it’s a small price to pay for what we’re getting back in economic investment in eastern North Carolina.”

Gov. Cooper said he is proud of the state’s role in national defense and he hopes to continue to support the work FRC East does to further that mission.

“To make sure that this is a successful endeavor, that we have one of the best places in the country for repair and renovation of aircraft and that we are ready as a country to defend our people and that North Carolina can play such a big part in that,” he said. “We are indeed the most military friendly state in the country, and we are going to do everything we can to uphold that reputation.”

 

2019 Marine Corps Birthday Message

November 10, 2019

 

Happy 244th Birthday to the United States Marine Corps!!  In this video, Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David H. Berger and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Troy E. Black, present the 2019 Marine Corps birthday message celebrating 244 years of our Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps video by Rick Robinson and Staff Sgt. James R. Skelton)

 

USMC Celebrates 244 Years on November 10, 2019

November 04, 2019

 

The U.S. Marine Corps Birthday celebrates the history, memory of those who served before and rekindles the bond that unites all generations of Marines. It is a celebration of the profound respect for the Marine Corps traditions and reverence of the heritage that distinguishes the Corps of Marines.

The Marines Corps birthday will take place on Sunday, November 10, 2019. The Marine Corps turns 244 years old.

Marines pose with a Marine Corps birthday cake during an official Marine Corps Birthday Cake Cutting ceremony.
Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Brian Burdett.

History of the Marine Corps Birthday

The birthday itself was formally recognized in 1921 at the behest of Major General John Lejeune, who ordered November 10, 1775 to be officially recognized service-wide as the Marine Corps birthday.

The origins go back to the Revolutionary War in October of 1775. At that time the  Continental Congress developed an official plan to use Marines to oversee a mission to intercept ammunition shipments from Britain. This, and a November resolution to create an official standing Marine Corps force, were key in building what eventually became the modern U.S. Marine Corps. Thus 10 November, 1775, the day the Continental Marines were created serves as the official Marine Corps birthday. The motivation for that resolution-a plan to attack Nova Scotia in order to annex it-never happened. But the Marines remained. But for how long?

Out Of Existence, Temporarily

According to the U.S. Marine Corps official site, “Throughout the American Revolution, the Marines served with distinction aboard the Continental vessels, but with the ending of that conflict, the entire Naval Service was so neglected through lack of appropriations and necessary legislation that by 1785 it actually ceased to exist.”

That would be the case until 1794 when Congress issued the first legislation addressing the need for a Navy and Marine Corps since the Revolutionary War.

Establishment of the Marine Corps As A Separate Branch Of Military Service

In the late 1700s, piracy had forced another look at using naval warfare to project the military power of the United States. At this time, the Marines still operated under the U.S. Navy, which itself operated under the Secretary of War. Legislation to make the U.S. Navy its’ own department came in 1798, with more legislation to establish the U.S. Marines as its’ own branch of service enacted later that same year.

Celebrating The Marine Corps Birthday

The Marine Corps Birthday is not a federal-style “bank holiday” observed with post office and bank closures, days off at school, etc. Instead it is observed as an “internal” holiday by the various branches of the military, with local government and civic organizations holding events to celebrate the men and women who service as United States Marines. Formal dinners and “Birthday Ball Pageants” in Washington D.C. and on military installations worldwide are part of the recognition of Marine Corps Day.

Marine Corps Birthday Ball

The Marine Corps Birthday Ball is a celebration of Marine Corps history and traditions. The first known Birthday Ball took place in Philadelphia in 1925 and has since evolved from a simple observance to an elaborate and tradition-filled day celebrated at military installations at home and abroad.

Marine Corps Birthday Ball Traditions

During the Birthday Ball a highlight of the evening is a ceremony. A key piece of the Marine Corps birthday celebration includes a cake cutting in celebration of the corps. While there is no exact format the general script involves cutting the cake with a Mameluke sword which gets it name from the cross hilt and ivory grip design and its use in Marine Corps dates back to 1805. The first piece of cake is generally given to the guest of honor and the second piece of cake goes to the oldest Marine present. The oldest Marine will often pass the cake to the youngest Marine to symbolize the passing of knowledge and experience. The ceremony typically also includes speeches, the reading of Gen. John A Lejeune’s birthday message, and a birthday message from the current Commandant.

Regardless of location Marines will pause to observe the birthday by sharing a cake and often a holiday meal too.

Source: militarybenefits.info