SOUTHWEST ASIA – Marine Maj. Mike Gaither, Fixed Wing Marine Transport Squadron Detachment Andrews Forward, is part of a small unit is made up of five Marine Reservists, who make up the pilots, and a handful of active duty enlisted Marines, who handle all the operational and personnel scheduling for the unit. All of the Marines are deployed from Joint Base Andrews, Md. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Joel Mease)
Marines from the Fixed Wing Marine Transport Squadron Detachment in Southwest Asia take off for a transport mission in Afghanistan July 26, 2012. The detachment usually flies approximately 20 days in a given month. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Bryan Swink)
by Senior Airman Joel Mease
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
1/23/2013 - SOUTHWEST ASIA -- When the leaders of the Marines have a requirement to be somewhere in the area of responsibility, they call the Fixed Wing Marine Transport Squadron Detachment Andrews Forward.
The VMR Det. Andrews FWD primary mission is to transport Marines and other service's leadership, who have critical mission needs in the U.S. Central Command AOR.
"We provide lift for distinguished visitors, who really can't wait for rotator airlift," said Maj. Mike Gaither, VMR Det. Andrews FWD Safety Officer.
The small unit is made up of five Marine Reservists, who make up the pilots, and a handful of active duty enlisted Marines, who handle all the operational and personnel scheduling for the unit. All of the Marines are deployed from Joint Base Andrews, Md.
According to Gaither, the unit may be small, but it has an important job to accomplish.
"This is our 'bread and butter' getting people to where they need across bases in Southwest Asia," Gaither said. "They have a job to get to and we get them there."
Transporting people in a safe and timely manner is also a task the detachment's pilots are all too familiar with as four of the five pilots work full-time as commercial airline pilots.
"Most of us have around 7 to 8,000 flying hours each," Gaither said. "This kind of transport is interesting, as you can interact with the passengers while flying, whereas when I'm flying for the airline I don't get to that same interaction with the customer. I think those who need the transportation are very thankful we are able to do it and provide them an enjoyable flight."
The opportunity to help provide transportation to high-ranking military and DoD civilians also has a benefit for the younger Marines in the unit.
"I like the fact this job has helped my people skills and can prepare me for future jobs," said Lance Cpl. Ryan Barclift, who has only been a Marine for a year and a half.
For Lance Cpl. Dennis Gosselin, being a part of an operation that places an importance on getting leadership where they need to be is something he prides himself in.
"They have to carry out their mission, and we accomplish that," Gosslein said.