Thirteen years ago, 23-year-old Joshua Perkins was looking to turn his life around. After high school, he spent five years working as an auto mechanic and got used to it. Then he found the Marine Corps.
“I was 23 and trying to figure out where I was going with my life,” said U.S. Marine Corps Master Sgt. Joshua Perkins, a CH-53E Super Stallion crew chief with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 366. “I just decided one day, ‘You know what? I think I’ll give the Marine Corps a chance. I walked into the recruiter’s office and decided that was what I was going to do. Then, right after my first deployment, I realized this was a career change for me and I was planning on doing my full 20s. I simply love what I do.
Perkins’ time as a squad leader taught him how to lead Marines and pass on essential knowledge on the job. He believes the role of a team leader is crucial to the success of heavy lift helicopter operations.
“My work contributes a great deal to the accomplishment of the mission,” Perkins said. “We are moving personnel, cargo, and external loads to frontline Marines so they can complete their mission.”
Crew chiefs are responsible for understanding their aircraft from nose to tail, using their knowledge and experience to maintain operational readiness. Additionally, their responsibilities range from operating weapon systems and assisting pilots during flights to washing engines and repairing rotors.
HMH-366 deployed to Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas, July 7-18, to prepare for an upcoming deployment. The squadron was forced to adapt to unfamiliar environments as temperatures reached over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Perkins applied his experience from two combat deployments in Afghanistan to his daily duties in the Texas heat.
“A lot of the lessons I learned there were about the environmental aspect of things,” Perkins said. “Flying in hot, very dusty weather, long nights, long days, and the tactics we used there. I bring it here and I train it to teach the Marines why we do what we do and how we do it, to mitigate our risks.
The Marine Corps introduced the CH-53K King Stallion, the newest heavy-lift helicopter, and the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing received its first CH-53K in January 2022. The CH-53K has three times the lift capacity of its predecessor, the CH-53E Super Stallion. Perkins plans to move to the King Stallion for the rest of his career.
“The change is going to affect me because I will have to learn a new type of aircraft,” he said with a determined mindset. “Whether it’s fixing it or flying back. Like everything else in the Marine Corps, improvise, adapt, and overcome.