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Marines execute helicopter support exercises

21st October 2009 - 08:00 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


A clear, cool night with starry skies at a desolate field aboard Camp Lejeune was suddenly interrupted by a large, booming helicopter that produced hurricane-force winds in the faces of the Marines standing below.

As the hulking CH-53E Super Stallion descended from the sky, its overpowering rotors pressed the ground, turning even the tiniest dirt particles into painful projectiles.

Marines from Landing Support Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 27, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, conducted a helicopter support training exercise the evening of Oct. 13, 2009, where they practiced attaching a 6,000 lb. beam to a helicopter which was then airlifted away.

The purpose of helicopter transportation is to expedite the movement of cargo in a tactical situation where speed and maneuverability are needed.  The aircraft used in the operations, including the Corps’ new MV-22 Osprey, have the ability to move humvees, artillery, containers, and even other helicopters.

Helicopter support exercises such as this are conducted in order to familiarize LS specialist and aircraft crew members with the intricacies of airlift operations.

Pfc. Kerry Hotard, a landing support specialist with LS Company, said that during the exercise the Super Stallion pilots hoverd their helicopters a few feet over the Marines as they hooked up cargo to the bottom of the aircraft.

He said that HSTs can be dangerous and include the risk of electrocution if not done correctly. He explained that these risks can be minimized with the use of an anti-static wand, gloves and other personal protective equipment.

Despite the risks associated with their job, the Marines of LS Company say they love the dangerous and unique responsibilities.

“We have fun. We jump around, get blown around by the hurricane-force winds and just motivate each other,” Hotard said

And that’s exactly what happened…

As the helicopter hovered over the Marines, inching lower and lower, the deafening loudness of the propellers and the force of the winds would have intimidated anyone. Despite the insurmountable circumstances, these Marines skillfully and swiftly got the job done, using hand and arm signals with the aid of glow sticks to communicate with one another.

After each lift, team leader Cpl. Timothy L. Kackley, discussed with his Marines what they did well at and what they needed to improve upon for the next lift.

The HST lasted for six lifts and Kackley determined the exercise to be a success.

“We had a lot to work with difficulty-wise,” he said. “There was a lot of danger out there tonight – low tires and sling hooks. Overall, I think we overcame it pretty well.”

As the exercise came to a close, the LS specialists discussed with each other the fun they had just experienced as they loaded humvees up with their gear.

“I love my job!” exclaimed Kackley.

The LS Marines are recognizable by the distinctive red markings they wear on their uniforms, which date back to World War II when the markings were used to differentiate them from the infantry during crowded amphibious operations in the Pacific Campaign.

The height and color of the mark on the leg symbolizes stained fatigues in the bloody waters, said Kackley.

By United States Marine Corps Public Affairs

The Shephard News Team


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