Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Kwan Cochrane, the maintenance administration chief with Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501, was selected to receive the Geico Military Service Award. The award spotlights the valuable and lasting contributions made by enlisted service members. (Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jonah Lovy)

Marine Gunnery Sergeant Wins Geico Military Service Award for Fall Protection Program

"Marines always have safety in place, but it was not an official program. I built the program up from scratch and it became necessary for us to have a fall protection system here for working on the jets," Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Kwan Cochrane said.

Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Kwan Cochrane, maintenance administration chief with Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C., has received the Geico Military Service Award for developing a fall protection program to protect personnel who maintain F-35B Lighting II joint strike fighter aircraft. (The Marine Corps photo illustrating this article is by Cpl. Jonah Lovy and is posted on this site with permission; this news story is based on a report by Lovy.)

"I took over the ground safety at VMFAT-501," Cochrane said in Lovy's account. "Before that we did not have specific protocols due to the nature of our work. Marines always have safety in place, but it was not an official program. I built the program up from scratch and it became necessary for us to have a fall protection system here for working on the jets."

He updated an existing system utilizing harnesses and pulleys. "Due to the importance of the F-35 program, I had to come up with something that would keep the Marines safe and maintain the readiness of the aircraft. I went out and got the harnesses developed and took the metal out of the design," he said. Removing the metal from the harness allows the jet's stealth technology to operate without interference, and Cochrane's system lets Marines work on the F-35 from all angles without the danger of falling.

"My chain of command was impressed with the work I accomplished and brought in higher-level personnel to review the system. The design is now slated to be implemented in F-35 hangars all over the Marine Corps," Cochrane said.

The awards program recognizes valuable, lasting contributions enlisted service members make in three specific areas: drug and alcohol abuse prevention; fire safety and fire prevention; or traffic safety and accident prevention. One enlisted service member from each branch is recognized each year.

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