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Huey crew chiefs receive award for efforts in Afghan skies

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Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 267 awarded 18 Marines with combat aircrew wings at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, Aug. 26.

The combat wings signify service in a combat environment, compared to the basic wings all aircrew receive when their initial training is complete. The crew chiefs of HMLA-267 who received their combat aircrew wings have each flown more than 170 combat mission hours with 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward).

“It feels good to get the wings. Every crew chief dreams of this,” said Sgt. Katherine T. Llinas, a UH-1Y Huey crew chief with HMLA-267, and a native of Gainesville, Fla. “It means I’ve done my job, which is combat support.”

Crew chiefs are enlisted Marines who fly in the cabin of the aircraft. On the UH-1Y Huey, crew chiefs operate some of the aircraft’s weapons, provide the pilots with 360-degree situational awareness, and offer hands-on support when the helicopter is moving troops, equipment or supplies.

The crew chiefs awarded ranged from private first class to staff sergeant.

“It took me seven years to get this,” said Staff Sgt. Vincent P. Clarkson, a UH-1Y Huey crew chief instructor with HMLA-267, and a native of Paradise, Calif. “I put in a lot of hard work and effort.”

HMLA-267, deployed out of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., has been deployed to Camp Bastion for about three months. The light attack helicopter squadron consists of UH-1Y Hueys and AH-1W Super Cobras. The utility and attack helicopters provide close-air support and transport for Marines and their coalition partners in southwestern Afghanistan.

“I definitely feel like we all earned them,” said Cpl. Forest H. Pike a UH-1Y Huey crew chief with HMLA-267, and a native of Cedar City, Utah. “They all deserve it and they’ve all done more than necessary to earn these wings.”

Article by Cpl. Samantha H. Arrington, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Fwd)