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U.S. Marines with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121’s seat shop, work on removing a canopy from an F-35B Lightning II aircraft at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Aug. 4, 2017. The squadron’s seat shop Marines are responsible for egress systems and environmental controls and oxygen systems within the F-35B Lightning II. Ensuring proper operating systems within their area of operation keeps aircraft in the air and has the potential of saving pilots’ lives. (U.S. Marine corps photo by Cpl. Joseph Abrego)

Photo by Cpl. Joseph Abrego

VMFA-121’s seat shop embodies attention to detail

7 Aug 2017 | Cpl. Joseph Abrego 1st Marine Aircraft Wing

Turning wrenches, checking operating systems, safety inspections and ensuring a last line of defense are all part of daily life as a seat shop Marine with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121.

Safeguarding pilots on everyday flights through hard work, dedication and meticulous attention to detail earned the seat shop Outstanding Work Center of the Month for July 2017 within the squadron.

“On a daily basis I handle tool control,” said U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Alan F. Burgos-Carpio, safety equipment mechanic with VMFA-121. “I ensure that everything is accounted for and minimize risk by not leaving things out. I also upkeep ejection seat maintenance and focus on the canopy assembly.”

Egress systems are a critical responsibility for seat shop Marines as they encompass the canopy and the ejection seat of the aircraft.

“When we are preparing for flights, we do our prior and post operations inspections, which consist of looking over the canopy and ejection seat to ensure that everything is where it needs to be,” said U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Katie M. Yetter, collateral duty inspector with VMFA-121. “We want to make sure that there’s no indication the explosives for the seat haven’t tried to go off and make sure it’s all in the right condition for the pilot.”

Although the shop’s main focus is the egress system, they also work on environmental controls and oxygen systems.

“We also service oxygen,” said Yetter. “We service the backup oxygen supply bottle that the pilot uses to breath if the concentrator isn’t working and deal with pressurization in the cab. Correct pressurization makes sure that there’s no issues with hypoxia for pilots at different altitudes.”

Yetter said that ensuring quality work in the shop keeps aircraft and pilots in the fight and supports the overall mission at hand. She added that they play a big role in Marine aviation, and it’s nice to know their work doesn’t go unnoticed.

“We play a very important role in this squadron with the quality of our work,” said Yetter. “We ensure that nothing goes wrong, and in times of need, we make sure no one will get hurt.”

Seat shop Marines show the smallest parts can play the biggest role. They recognize their jobs importance and take pride in their work.

“My favorite part about being seat shop is that we are so invaluable,” said Burgos-Carpios. “Everything could function properly with the aircraft and at a moment’s notice something goes wrong, our systems are saving a pilot’s life. I take pride in knowing that I can potentially save someone’s life.”

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