SAN FRANCISCO --
Hundreds of Marines, Sailors, and Coast Guardsmen flock to San Francisco for Fleet Week, but for a select few, this trip means coming home.
Captain Chris Conklin, an MV-22 Osprey pilot with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 165, Marine Aircraft Group 16, grew up in Redding, California, and has now made his way back to the Golden State.
Both of Conklin’s grandfathers served in World War II, which gave him a good place to start when he decided he wanted to be a pilot.
“I’ve always loved aviation and from a young age, I did everything I could to line myself up to get into a cockpit someday,” said Conklin. “I just wanted to fly, and the military was a good way to do it.”
Conklin said he has spent most of his Marine Corps career so far on the East Coast as he went through flight school and other follow-on training, but he is very glad to be back so close to home.
“It’s a dream come true being stationed in San Diego,” said Conklin. “Before I checked in to my unit, I got to go home for a week and see everybody. It’s an easy drive for all the holidays.”
Although Conkiln hasn’t lived in California for approximately 8 years, it will always be a part of him.
“I remember coming to San Francisco as a kid, riding the trolley, getting the clam chowder bread bowl and all that,” said Conklin. “Coming back and flying in on an Osprey is a pretty cool feeling.”
On the first day of San Francisco Fleet Week 2014, Conklin flew an MV-22 as part of a casualty evacuation exercise in collaboration with corpsmen from Combat Logistics Battalion 13, 1st Marine Logistics Group.
“The Osprey is an amazing aircraft. It can take off like a helicopter and fly like an airplane,” said Conklin. “Depending on conditions, we could move a patient up to 800 miles within an hour.”
The casualty evacuation is only one of several interoperability training opportunities the Marines will participate in during fleet week. These experiences increase different agencies abilities to respond quickly and work together effectively to provide relief and assistance in the event of natural disasters and other crises that threaten public safety, infrastructure and health.
“San Francisco has the San Andreas Fault line so there’s a high likelihood of an earthquake,” said Conklin. “I think it’s great training with the local civilians and government officials so we’re ready for any crisis that could happen.”
The skills Conklin develops during these events can help him deal with situations wherever and whenever they develop.
“We’ve done emergency response around the world, and we always have Marines on standby,” said Conklin. “I want to support the Marines on the ground; they are the front line of America’s defense.”
Conklin has not had the opportunity to deploy yet, but with less than a year under his belt of flying the MV-22, he is just getting started.