HMLA-773 maintainers make Robins home

  • Published
  • By Jenny Gordon
  • Robins Public Affairs
Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 773, the Marine Corps Reserves' only attack helicopter squadron, includes 350 Marines stationed here.

The Robins unit is one of three in HMLA-773; the others are located in Louisiana and New Jersey. The "Red Dogs" squadron includes AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters and UH-1N Huey utility helicopters, which perform close support functions both overseas and stateside.

Its fleet is maintained by a host of airframes and avionics technicians throughout the Corps, as well as a team here dedicated to making sure the aircraft are ready to fly anytime, anywhere.

Whether it's repairing holes or cracks, or fixing anything that could malfunction on the outside or inside of a Cobra or Huey, such as flight controls, landing gear and hydraulics, can be left in the hands of Sgt. C.R. Ridgeway, airframes mechanic, and Sgt. Will Farrell, avionics mechanic.

Both men are proud of the daily role they play as part of their squadron's mission in fulfilling any assigned task required by the Corps.

A Wisconsin native, Farrell had previously served with Ridgeway in another part of the country. Both men, who joined the Marines after September 11, 2001, enjoy the camaraderie, local community and the workload.

"I enjoy the tempo here," said Ridgeway, a Fitzgerald, Ga., native who joined the service two months after graduating high school. "Coming from an active duty unit, you tend to deploy much more. Being here, you have a lot more down time."

Like every experienced troubleshooter, there are challenges to the job. Repairing starters, generators, GPS indicators and torque issues are a few challenges seen lately by Farrell, who has deployed three times to Iraq during his service.

"A lot of what we do goes hand-in-hand with each other," said Farrell of his coworker. "Our components talk to each other quite a bit, so many times we troubleshoot together."
These helicopters have recently provided escort to convoys and Medivac flights, as well as support for other aircraft vulnerable to attack overseas. Major differences between the two helicopters include the faster two-seater Cobras are equipped with more firepower. Meanwhile, the UH-1N Huey was first used during the late 1960s and can be configured for more passenger space.

HMLA-773 falls under the command of Marine Aircraft Group 49, also at Robins, and is part of the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing. Both units relocated to Warner Robins in June of 2010, from Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta. The commanding officer of the unit is Lt. Col. Kyle Burress.