Three U.S. Marine Corps Units – Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 269, Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, and Reconnaissance Training Company, Advanced Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry-West – were recognized by the Secretary of the Navy with Safety Excellence Awards for achievements in the field of safety during fiscal year 2020.
In a statement, the Honorable Mr. Thomas W. Harker, Acting Secretary of the Navy, said “the actions of these units are a testament to the commitment and tenacity of our service professionals as they remain focused on executing their mission safely.”
“Safety and risk management are indispensable values needed to execute our mission whether at home or deployed in harm's way. These units have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to mission readiness and disciplined decision making.”
Reconnaissance Training Company, located aboard Camp Pendleton, California, received the Expeditionary Safety Award. As the unit charged with producing Reconnaissance Marines, Reconnaissance Officers, and Special Amphibious Reconnaissance Corpsmen, RTC conducts a variety of high-risk training events. Participants are required to execute arduous long-distance hikes in challenging terrain, open-water ocean swimming, and fast roping from towers and aircraft. Despite the inherent risks associated with this training, RTC experienced zero significant mishaps during the fiscal year.
“We pride ourselves on ensuring we protect our most important resource – our people,” said Major Morgan T. Jordan, the commanding officer of RTC. “As a Formal Schoolhouse responsible for the execution of five high risk training programs of instruction, safety is fundamental to everything we do.”
Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, which received the Safety Award for an Installation, encourages supervisors and employees to treat health and safety as an integral part of installation management, rather than as a stand-alone program. The command’s safety council set goals of achieving mishaps rates which were 60% below the national average – goals they then met and exceeded by nearly 20%.
“Distinguished safety awards such as The Secretary of the Navy FY2020 Safety Excellence Award represent the sustained success of the entire organization,” said David J. Romero, the Lead Occupational Health & Safety Specialist at MCLB Barstow. “Each and every member of the organization plays a vital role in overall safety record and success.”
Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 269, the recipient of the Safety Award for Aviation, also created a safe operating environment through the development, implementation and continuous refinement of policies and practices. These practices were designed to proactively identify and address safety hazards at not only the squadron level, but throughout the entire naval aviation enterprise.
In particular, HMLA-269 has implemented practices designed to identify when deviations from standard practices occur through methods like the “Ready Room Confessional”, where aircrew are encouraged to share personal experiences, both positive and negative, in a non-punitive environment. The sharing of these personal experiences has fostered open discussions about safety and best practices among all present.
The actions of these units serve as an example of effective safety programs that ensure we protect our most valuable asset – the men and women who serve in the United States Marine Corps. By making safety and priority, and ensuring that it is an integral part of unit processes and operations, Marine Corps units avoid mishaps and maintain a higher state of readiness.