CAMP DWYER, Afghanistan – When Marines deployed to remote forward operating bases are in need of immediate resupply, they look to the sky.
Marines from Landing Support Platoon, Headquarters and Service Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 3, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), control all helicopter landing zone operations to include aerial resupply missions, gear and personnel transportation as well as all movement of helicopters on their respective forward operating bases.
The landing support Marines are deployed to six forward operating bases and combat outposts in support of four infantry battalions throughout Afghanistan’s Helmand province. In addition to transporting personnel, helicopter support teams can air-lift thousands of pounds of cargo at a time from one forward operating base to another.
The Marines have proven to be an essential asset to the infantry units they are located with, especially those in remote areas not easily accessible by ground vehicle.
“A helicopter support team provides the unique resupply capability needed for this type of situation,” said Staff Sgt. Matthew J. Arismendez, landing support chief, Landing Support Platoon, H&S Company, CLB-3, 1st MLG (FWD). “A single HST mission can provide up to 28,000 pounds of chow, water, ammunition or fuel needed to resupply a specific remote location making it both expeditious and efficient while offering a very important resource to the [ground combat elements]."
For Lance Cpl. Christopher N. Johnson, a landing support specialist aboard Camp Dwyer, his favorite part of the job is its diversity.
“I get to be under a bird or sometimes I'm just helping a unit or individual Marine get to their appointed place of duty,” said Johnson, a 21 year-old native of Shelbyville, Ky.
Although they operate mostly on their own, the Marines continue to excel in their operations while enjoying the trust of their chain of command.
“[The Marines have] successfully supported numerous helicopter external [food and water] resupply missions in support of routine and operational requirements,” said 1st Lt. Joseph H. Borgardt, commander, Landing Support Platoon, H&S Company, CLB-3, 1st MLG (FWD). “Our landing support teams hold a lot of responsibility and are doing a fine job at it.”
Cpl. Jeremy M. Torres is the only landing support specialist at Forward Operating Base Dehli working in support of 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division (Forward).
“It was a real honor being trusted with that responsibility and gaining the respect of another unit who didn’t have [landing support] Marines of their own,” said Torres, a 21 year-old native of Yonkers, N.Y.
The experience of working alone has not only given the Marines a higher sense of responsibility, but they say it has given them the skills necessary to pass down their knowledge of helicopter landing zone operations to their junior Marines.
“I can take what I'm learning now and when I become a [non-commissioned officer] I can show my Marines what we did and how it applies whether in Afghanistan or back in garrison,” said Lance Cpl. Kyle A. Jernberg, a 22 year-old native of Sioux City, Iowa, and landing support specialist, Landing Support Platoon, H&S Company, CLB-3, 1st MLG (Fwd). “As a Marine, that’s what I strive for. Since basic training we were taught that the mission is everything. I respect the fact that our leaders have that kind of trust and confidence in us.”