MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va --
Laying down AM-2 aluminum matting on a runway is akin to
putting together a puzzle, only a lot harder and more time-intensive.
This quickly became obvious to Lance Cpl. Cupid Baker,
Expeditionary Airfields, Marine Wing Support Squadron 274. He was one of the 19
Marines from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C. and some 50 others
from Quantico’s Marine Corps Air Facility tasked to repair Delta taxiway with
new AM-2 matting.
“I had never done it before, so I thought it was like
putting Lego pieces together,” he said. “I figured I’d find out what I needed
to do, pop [the bad pieces] out and put another piece in.”
If only it were that easy replacing the 72 bad pieces of
the aluminum rectangles that can be as large as 24 square feet and weigh as
much as 140 pounds each. The matting, which is a key part of the EAFs mobile
system that allows the U.S. military to quickly project airpower worldwide, is
assembled in brickwork pattern to form runways, taxiways, parking and other
areas required for aircraft operations and maintenance.
Edge clamps, cruciform stakes and earth anchors are used
to secure the AM-2 matting to the ground once properly laid out. Laying down
the 146,000 square feet of matting takes about a week.
“It’s hard work,” said Lance Cpl. Anderson Schmittou,
Expeditionary Airfields, Marine Wing Support Squadron 274, “but it’s worth it
to make it right.”
The matting is typically replaced roughly every five
years, said Warrant Officer James Garrison, officer in charge, Expeditionary
Airfields, Marine Wing Support Squadron 274. A recent inspection revealed that
MCAF’s Delta taxiway was in immediate need of new matting. Much like a car tire
that goes bad and needs replacement, small spikes can extend out from worn down
matting, damaging aircraft tires and putting them at additional risk during
takeoffs and landings.
Garrison lauded his Marines for their efforts in getting
the project done.
“These Marines put out,” he said. “We go to bed sore and