Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Matthew R. Lane, son of Johnna C. Keen of Cottonwood, currently deployed with Marine Wing Support Squadron 172 (MWSS-172), Marine Wing Support Group 17, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, Okinawa, Japan. MWSS-172, which joined forces with 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) in Al Asad, Iraq, is the first wing support squadron from III Marine Expeditionary Force to deploy in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. All previous MWSS's deployed from aircraft wings based in the United States.
The Marines of MWSS-172 will perform aviation ground support aboard Al Asad Air Base and throughout the Anbar province and modify existing helicopter-landing zones (HLZ) while constructing new ones. Using heavy equipment, the Marines level the area and compact the soil, then lay down a coat of soil-stabilizing substance to prevent excessive sand clouds. The process will enhance the pilots' visibility, allowing them to land aircraft safely.
Additionally, MWSS-172 and Alpha Company, 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion (CEB) teamed up with the Engineer Company, 7th Iraqi Infantry Division, to construct a new headquarters site for Iraqi Army soldiers to conduct
operations from. For more than two years, 3rd Battalion, 10th Brigade, 7th Iraqi Infantry Division, has occupied the school in the town of Bagdadi while maintaining security in the local area.
The 3rd CEB fortified the new site, placing barriers, guard houses and concertina wire while MWSS-172 and the Iraqi Army engineers erected prefabricated buildings.
The school is scheduled to be de-militarized before the start of the next school term, allowing students to return and reducing overcrowding in the neighboring schools.
Lane is a 2005 graduate of Mingus Union High School of Cottonwood.