“Why did you join the Marine Corps? A question that has been asked by generations of Marines, a question whose answer is already known, but which we always choose to ask anyway.
“I wanted to do something more with my life.”
Those are the words of Staff Sergeant. Lauren Song, a native of Aurora, Colorado, is now stationed with Marine Transport Squadron 1, Marine Aircraft Group 41, Marine Forces Reserve, in Fort Worth, Texas.
“I thought the Marine Corps would be the biggest challenge of any branch and it didn’t disappoint in that regard,” Song said with a laugh, “But I’ve enjoyed it so far.”
Song joined the Marine Corps in October 2015, before being posted to Marine Aerial Refueler Squadron 234 after completing her military specialty training. While with VMGR-234, Song served as a KC-130J Super Hercules loadmaster. During her time as a KC-130J loadmaster, she received the Humanitarian Service Medal and the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with a bronze star in lieu of the second award.
“It’s really a pretty cool experience to be able to be first in anything in the Marine Corps.” Staff Sgt. Lauren Song, C-40A Clipper Crew Chief
Now she is the first Marine Corps crew chief for the C-40A Clipper.
“A C-40 is a [Boeing] 737 which has been converted to have a cargo door on the side so that we can load and unload cargo pallets in addition to passengers,” Song explains.
The Marine Corps placed an order for two C-40A aircraft in 2018 and assigned its personnel to VMR-1 to work with Navy C-40s with Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 59, which has made Song one of the first Marines to be fully certified. loadmaster on this cell. The C-40 is designed to provide organic strategic airlift capabilities to the Marine Corps, capable of transporting personnel and/or cargo farther and faster than any other aircraft currently in service.
“I started as a C-40 crew chief when I was stationed with VMGR-234 and the former commander of VMR-1 was a C-130 pilot so he was training with us while VMR -1 didn’t have any aircraft,” Song said, “He was like, ‘Hey, we’re looking for good Marines to start the C-40 program,’ and I said, ‘Sign me up!’
Song was sent back into the training pipeline with two other Marines from her unit, but the training flights ended up working in her favor, granting her the privilege of being the first-ever C-40A crew chief in the Marine Corps.
Song’s command chose to submit his name for the Marine Corps Aviation Association’s Danny L. Radish Award, established in honor of Master Gunnery Sgt, Danny L. Radish, who served as a Marine Airman for more than 23 years. The award is intended to recognize outstanding contributions to maritime aviation by enlisted aircrew.
Photo by Marine Corps Sgt. Justin Bell
Song was instrumental in developing the products, processes and doctrinal programs for VMR-1, writing several chapters of the first Marine Corps C-40A Training and Readiness Manual, according to his submission for the Danny L. Radish Award. .
“It’s really a pretty cool experience to be able to be first in anything in the Marine Corps. But specifically like the C-40s, we’ve never done that,” Song said, “Last time that we had a similar aircraft, it was the C-9 which closed down in 2017. working with the navy and learning a brand new aircraft was a challenge that i really enjoyed.
As a female marine, Song is no stranger to challenges.
Female Marines make up 8.9% of the active duty Marine Corps and only 4.3% of the Select Marine Corps Reserve, earning them the title “Least, Proudest”.
Gender diversity has been a long-standing issue in the Marine Corps, but the service has made progress in closing the gender gap. Female Marines were allowed to serve in combat MOS beginning in 2016, including the admission of women into the infantry community, a career field formerly restricted to men.
“We are sailors. We all won this title out of training camp,” Song said, “I don’t feel any different from my male counterparts. We are all striving to arrive at the same angle and the same end state. We’re all Marines at the end of the day.