News: Marines of Fox Company completes egress training
Story by Lance Cpl. Corey Dabney
CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — Marines gasped for air, as they surfaced from being upside-down underwater inside a helicopter simulator, Aug. 27. They were soaked and disorientated as they escaped from a cramped compartment as water flooded inside.
Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, recently trained on the helicopter-dunker egress trainer, a training tool that Marines use to simulate a helicopter crash over water. The simulated helicopter completely submerges itself underwater, then flips upside-down with the Marines inside it. The Marines have to use their training to quickly escape the helicopter.
The Marines of 2nd Bn., 4th Marines are scheduled to be part of a future 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit deployment. This training is important because as part of a MEU, day to day helicopter operations over water are inevitable.
“The chance of a helicopter going down is always high because there are so many things that go into it like wind resistance, helicopter maintenance and age of the aircraft,” said 1st Sgt. Raymond Velasquez, the first sergeant of Fox Company, 2nd Bn. 4th Marines. “Marines need to be prepared for everything they may face, and training for those events can save their lives.”
The Marines sat in the classroom for four hours going over different helicopters and learning the safest possible ways to exit the aircraft during a crash.
They were taught to grip the bottom of the seat like a harness as the helicopter tipped over and keep their feet planted on the ground to keep their footing.
“This is some of the best training we could get,” said Cpl. Corey Thomas, a rifleman with Fox Company, 2nd Bn. 4th Marines. “If your helicopter does go down you want to have that muscle memory to know what to do, so you don’t want to be caught without this training.”
If a helicopter crashes it will flip upside-down because of the weight at the top of the helicopter, and it is disorienting, said Thomas, a 22-year-old Toronto, Ohio native.
The simulated helicopter is the actual shell of a helicopter; therefore it’s realistic for the Marines.
“We want our Marines to treat this training like it’s the really happening because it could happen,” said Raymond, a 40-year-old native of Richmond, Va. “Since the simulator looks like the inside of a helicopter, its easier for the Marines to get into training.”
The simulated helicopter design was realistic with the helicopter that Sgt. Joseph Falvey, an infantry rifleman with Fox Company, 2nd Bn., 4th Marines, was aboard.
“I’ve been on a helicopter before and the inside looked almost exactly the same,” said Falvey, a 24 year-old-native of Fresno, Calif. “I’m really happy with the way the command tries to make the training as realistic as possible for us.”
Marines trained until late in the afternoon getting in the simulator multiple times and receiving coaching from their instructors on what could make the evacuation go smoother and faster. The more they trained the faster their escapes became.
As the day ended the Marines that attended the training were all dripping wet, but had succeeded in their mission to become certified in their helicopter crash survival training in preparation for the MEU.
The 31st MEU is a flexible sea-based Marine Air Ground Task Force that conducts amphibious operations, crisis response, and limited contingency operations.