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Tue, Jan 20, 2004

HMM-265 'Dragons' Achieve 60K Safe Flight Hours

The Marines of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron-265 (Reinforced), currently attached to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, celebrated 60,000 flight hours without a Class-A mishap with an award presentation and cake-cutting ceremony Jan. 5.

A Class-A mishap is any incident that results in death or monetary damage equal to or more than $1 million, according to Maj. Paul M. Riegert, director of safety and standardization for HMM-265 (REIN), also known as the Dragons.

The 15-year journey to 60,000 hours began May 31, 1989 when the Dragons experienced their last Class-A mishap. Since then, they have used many methods to prevent mishaps and implement safety .

One way the Dragons exercise safety is by using Operational Risk Management (ORM). The five-step ORM process includes identifying hazards, assessing hazards, making risk decisions, implementing controls,  and supervising any hazardous situations to make the workplace a safer environment.

"The Dragons firmly adhere to ORM on a daily basis and have even created their own ORM video to educate their Marines," Riegert said.

The Dragons have taken safety yet a step further by assigning every Marine as a safety officer. This means every Marine is responsible for safety for himself and his fellow Marines. According to Lt. Col. Matthew "Jerry" Glavy, commanding officer, HMM-265, each Marine takes pride in his job and a critical part of this is being safe.

"Fixing airplanes, flying airplanes and promoting Marines are the three most important things we do in this squadron," the Buffalo, N.Y. native said. "We do those things well because of the best Staff (noncommissioned officer) leadership in the Marine Corps, and the lance corporals keep score. The lance corporals and corporals are just as concerned about safety and readiness as the commanding officer and sergeant major."

Glavy said the Marines accomplish their mission of fixing and flying airplanes correctly everyday. He also noted that the daily achievement of this mission is the only way to accomplish 60,000 safe flight hours.

"This milestone is just coincidental to every Marine doing his daily job. Every Marine can go home at night and go to bed proud because he knows he did his job correctly," Glavy said. "Then he wakes up the next morning humble and hungry for the jobs that await."

The 60,000 hours have taken the Dragons to many places while both embarked with the MEU and during self-deployed missions over the course of 15 years. From the Middle East to the Philippines and literally around the world, they have proved they can accomplish any mission both safely and proficiently.

The 60,000-hour mark was achieved Nov. 2, 2003 while a CH46-E was flying a Civil Military Operation mission over East Timor. Now that they have reached 60,000 hours, Riegert said they look forward to safely reaching 65,000.

"Our job isn't just to be safe, it is to be combat ready," the Alexandria, Va., native said. "Combat readiness is the product of focused training and aggressive ORM."

As of Jan.7, the Dragons have accumulated 60,642.6 Class-A mishap free hours, and continue to serve proudly as the Aviation Combat Element for the 31st MEU. [ANN Thanks Sgt. Danny L. Patterson]

FMI: www.usmc.mil

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