BEAUFORT, SC (WTOC) - As part of VMFA 312, Cpl. Faith Klinger does her part to complete the squadron's mission.
"I am aviation ordinance," Klinger said. "I work on all of the weapon systems for the F-18 fighter jet."
Her job at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort entails some heavy lifting.
"We do all of the loading of the bombs, missiles, rockets, electronic counter measures and ammunition into the jets," Klinger said.
Those responsibilities are something she never imagined she'd be taking on.
"Absolutely not," she said. "Five years ago before I joined the Marine Corps, that wasn't even in my thoughts."
Neither was being in combat. But in May 2010, the squadron deployed overseas aboard the U.S.S. Harry S. Truman.
"We went around Afghanistan, Iraq," Klinger said. "We were operating out of the Gulf of Aiden mostly and participated in Operation New Dawn and Operation Enduring Freedom. ... We provide air support for the troops on the ground, whether they be Army, Navy, Air Force whoever needed us. Our pilots, they'd get a call and go in."
Klinger made sure they were equipped and ready to go. She has a lot of qualifications and therefore had a lot of responsibilities on the ship.
"I was one of the flight deck coordinators so I wore the radio cranial and had to coordinate our jets taking off and landing, the loading evolution of ordinance and downloading," said Klinger. "Everything was go, go, go, got to do this now, got to do this flight check, catch this jet, download this gun, everything was so constraint. We worked 12 on and 12 off, seven days a week for seven months."
She said she doesn't really think of herself as being a woman in combat. "You just think of yourself as being a Marine in combat, no one treats you any differently, we're all marines," she said.
Just days before Christmas, the squadron returned home to Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. Klinger said that looking back on the experience she is proud to have done her part.
"You get such a sense of pride when your jets return onto the aircraft carrier, they're in one piece, pilots are in one piece and no more ordnance on the jets, that means our system works, we did our job correctly and we saved lives," she said.
After serving five years in the Marine Corps, Klinger will soon be getting out and plans to go to Loyola University to study nursing.