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    Marines get crash course in helo dunker training

    Marines get crash course in helo dunker training

    Photo By Sgt. Christopher J. Moore | MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - A Marine with 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine...... read more read more



    Story by Lance Cpl. Christopher J. Moore 

    1st Marine Division

    MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – Ditching, ditching, ditching! That was the last thing Marines heard as they were lowered into a pool inside a Modular Amphibious Egress Trainer. The water rushed up their nose and oxygen seeped away every second until they were completely submerged.

    More than 20 Marines with 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, managed to keep their heads above water and learn the basic principles of underwater evacuation during a helicopter dunker exercise here, Nov. 4.

    The training taught the Marines how to properly use their safety gear and how to execute emergency exit procedures from a helicopter in the event it crashes in open waters.

    The evolution began with classroom instruction on proper brace positions and identifying factors that happen prior to the evacuation. From there, the Marines started the practical application by sitting in individual chairs contained within a float-lined cage, known as the Shallow Water Egress Trainer. Then the instructors flipped the chairs over to help the Marines get accustomed to being inverted underwater.

    “No matter how confident someone is in water, it takes a certain technique,” said retired Master Sgt. Mike Marzinsky, an underwater egress trainer, and resident of Fallbrook, Calif. “The techniques we teach here work. We didn’t just make it up. Hopefully they will be able to retain these skills, so if a crash ever happens they can rely on the training and get out of there.”

    The trainers put the Marines in the MAET suspended in the air over a pool. They were lowered into the pool, and the modular was flipped upside down, disorienting the Marines. They then conducted escape procedures, which allowed the Marines to develop survival techniques that could save their lives.

    The Marines went through the dunker several times, each time increasing the amount of equipment worn. From the initial dunk, the gear increased to the use of a rifle, flak jacket, blacked out goggles and an emergency breathing device.

    The training is the safest and closest way of simulating an actual incident without crashing a helicopter, Marzinsky said.

    “Before doing this, if someone asked me if it was possible to egress from a downed helicopter in the ocean, I would have said they were out of their mind,” said Capt. Jacob Crespin, Echo Company commanding officer. “After doing this training, I have a lot more confidence in using the equipment and finding exits that I can get out of if it goes into the water.”

    Marzinsky said the Marines dislike the training at first, but they learn to appreciate it toward the end of the course.

    “A lot of Marines come in here and they just hate it,” Marzinsky said. “But when the training is almost over, they start to like it and they want to go on a few more rides in the modular. It’s a total nerve builder. They can use these skills and save their life.”

    The Marines agreed they gained confidence in their ability to effectively evacuate from a helicopter in case of a crash.

    The Marines walked away from the course better prepared to face difficult situations. They have a new sense of confidence to go along with the valuable training as they prepare to deploy with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.



    Date Taken: 11.13.2013
    Date Posted: 11.13.2013 18:48
    Story ID: 116678
    Location: CAMP PENDLETON, CA, US 
    Hometown: FALLBROOK, CA, US
    Hometown: NORTHPORT, NY, US

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