News: Marines assist Air Advisors, evac wounded
Story by Airman Sean Crowe
JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. - Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 772 Marines provided support to the U.S. Air Force Air Advisor Academy’s most recent Field Training Exercise here March 29, 2013.
The Marines flew a CH-53E Super Stallion to the range where the AAA students and instructors were waiting to evacuate a simulated injured service member. The HMH-772 operations officer briefed the flight crew to prepare them for a tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel mission.
Academy students on the ground participated in an exercise in which they were to meet with a key leader who they would be working with for the next several months, while the CH-53E was flying in the nearby airspace.
The students had to plan the route and coordinate roles among each other for travel using the skills they learned throughout the academy’s eight-week course.
Simulated opposing forces ambushed the AAA students while providing transportation to a local national, after they met with the key leader. The students emerged from the vehicle, disoriented, and immediately started coordinating efforts with each other for a safe return.
“The students have to be prepared to provide first aid and return fire in a high-stress scenario,” said Culver. “There will be military assets, such as a helicopter, to provide support to those types of situations while in theater. The exercise also presented students with an unfamiliar scenario that tested their abilities to think on their feet.”
The Marines’ portion of the exercise then began when the pilot made contact with the students on the ground.
The pilot took the helicopter to an open field where Gunnery Sgt. Tim Longbine, Marine HMH-772 flight line staff noncommissioned officer in charge, met with an air advisor to coordinate a casualty evacuation.
“The communication with the students on the ground was not ideal,” said Longbine. “We touched down the first time to establish verbal communication and coordinate the evacuation. We established communication upon returning to the air and the students identified the color of signal smoke.”
The CH-53E touched down for a second time. Longbine quickly prepared the rear entrance for casualty loading. The students rushed on their set paths to the helicopter while some provided security and others performed a buddy carry on the injured student. The aircraft left the ground immediately once all students had boarded.
“We push the limits of training while remaining well inside the boundaries of safety,” said Longbine. “The exercise was pretty authentic as far as training goes. It’s hard to simulate a real-life scenario because nothing ever goes perfectly in real life. There are thousands of variables for any given mission.”
Students continuously performed aid on the simulated injured service member during the flight. The students returned to the site via helicopter, which concluded the Marines’ portion of the exercise.
“The great thing about Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst is that all the services are collocated, which allows us to share and consolidate resources the other services might not have,” said Longbine. “It ends up benefiting everyone involved.”
The school is unique because it is the only one of its kind.
“The school provides service members the knowledge to advise in any U.S. military interest, not just wartime interests,” said Master Sgt. Jeffrey Culver, Academy superintendent. “The academy is currently the only school in the U.S. military that trains deploying service members in that capacity.”
The students learn pre-deployment skills during the course including tactics, techniques, procedures, host-nation sensitivities, interpreter uses, negotiations, counter insurgency, local language basics, cultural backgrounds and combat skills that meet the standards of Combat Airman Skills Training.