News: Air Force ops excel at MCB Hawaii's training facilities
Story by Lance Cpl. Matthew Bragg
MARINE CORPS TRAINING AREA BELLOWS, Hawaii - Marines are known as the world’s finest fighting force, and there’s no reason to see why it wouldn’t have some of the best training facilities in the world as well.
129th Rescue Wing arrived at Marine Corps Base Hawaii April 22 to conduct several training missions to sustain its familiarity in jungle terrain.
Stationed at Moffett Federal Airfield, Mountain View, Calif., 129th Rescue Wing falls under the Air National Guard and specializes in conducting humanitarian and combat search and rescue missions anywhere in the world.
After landing at Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, the Wing sent its airmen to undergo the helo dunker course at the base pool and learn how to safely egress from a sinking aircraft. The helo dunker is required training for all U.S. service members in order to qualify to board military aircraft during training and operations in Hawaii.
“Marine Corps Base Hawaii prides itself on our ability to facilitate training for the warfighter,” said Mark Robinson, MCB Hawaii range and training scheduler. “Though our main customer is 3rd Marine Regiment, we accommodate all military branches, active duty, national guard and reserve, and any federal, state or local government entity.”
“Our ranges and training areas are replete with training capabilities and our maneuver warfare area at Marine Corps Training Area Bellows offers both ground and aviation units the best in real world training possibilities,” he continued. “Providing our customers with the ultimate (training) in (our) facilities is second only to the positive ‘can do’ attitude of all agencies aboard our fine base. In a sentence, our ethos is, ‘The answer is yes… Now how can we make it happen?’”
After qualifying in the helo dunker, 129RQW began conducting their operations above and aboard Marine Corps Training Area Bellows, Hawaii, April 25.
The Wing executed a beach landing with air support from both Lockheed P-3 Orion and Boeing C-17 Globemaster III aircraft. The beach landing allowed the pilots to grow familiar with the wind currents of Oahu.
“This area is a great place for us to practice these exercises,” said Rob, a Pararescue instructor with 131st Rescue Squadron, 129RQW. “We reviewed all of the training areas available to us in Hawaii and found that (MCTAB) had the best opportunity for the training we need while we’re here.”
The Wing leadership planned several scenarios for their unaware airmen to execute. Commanders held a brief each day to inform the airmen of a particular scenario taking place, and they were tasked with completing the unexpected mission.
129th Rescue Wing conducted an aircraft down/patient casualty search and rescue training mission. Instructors overseeing the exercise used 30 civilian roleplayers portrayed as “villagers” who were dispersed throughout the grassy area of the aircraft crash site.
Pararescuemen with 131st Rescue Squadron, 129RQW, Air National Guard, flew into MCTAB via two Sikorsky HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopters to rescue two of three dummies, or “pilots.”
Several PJs prepared the “survivors” for medical evacuation while the rest of the team spoke to some of the “villagers” and searched for the other “missing” pilot.
After preparing the survivors for MEDEVAC, the PJs cleared part of the jungle terrain and prepared to hoist themselves back into their aircraft.
“With this scenario, the training was a bit harder for the PJs because we implemented more civilians than a real world scenario would include,” Rob explained. “We have executed more real world scenarios than we have training scenarios because we usually don’t have a lot of time, so we included tasks we’d like to practice so that we can implement them into future missions.”
As the U.S. military prepares to host 23 nations in the upcoming 2014 Rim of the Pacific, the Marine Corps’ training areas will continue to play an integral role in sustaining familiarity in both humanitarian and combat operations.