|Sgt. Christopher Lemke under the “hell hole” of a Bell UH-1Y Huey. Photo by Cpl. Brian Adam Jones|
U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Christopher Lemke has received the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal in Afghanistan thanks to his discovery of previously unknown maintenance issue on a Bell UH-1Y Huey.
Lemke, a mechanic with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 369, was performing a routine phase inspection of the helicopter’s transmission compartment when he discovered that the transmission pylon beam and the main beam joint, which attaches the transmission to the Huey airframe, were decomposing.
“When two metals rub together, it creates this black liquid, and that’s what I found,” Lemke said. “No one else had ever found such an issue, but when we looked at another aircraft we had in phase, it had the same problem.”
The area Lemke was inspecting is known as the “hell hole” as it is difficult to reach and was not required that day as there was no known issue with that portion of the helicopter.
Following Lemke’s find, there was a fleet-wide inspection and an engineering advisory report.
“Our job isn’t just replacing things. If we don’t do it right, that’s someone’s life,” Lemke said.