TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. – The roar of the propellers above the helicopter was deafening. A screech rang throughout the hull, where eight Marines and the flight crew sat. Their only form of communication was hand signals, but those sitting side-by-side had the luxury of screaming into each otherâ€™s ears, hoping the message was comprehended down the row of seats.
The air was cooler at the high elevation, but the Marines knew what temperatures awaited them below. The aircraft circled multiple times, with the Marines peering down to get eyes on the objective.
The aircraft landed; it was game on.
Marines with Company G, 2nd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, conducted a tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel exercise over the Combat Center training areas Monday.
The unit, originally from Dover, N.J., arrived at the Combat Center July 1 in support of Large Scale Exercise-1/Javelin Thrust 2012.
Twenty-three Marines loaded up onto three CH-46E Sea Knight Helicopters from Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 774, and took off from the Camp Wilson landing zone.
Their mission was to retrieve two Marines awaiting rescue from a simulated downed aircraft. One was a simulated casualty and in need of medical attention, the other was somewhat injured but able to walk and talk.
Unlike a search-and-rescue, a TRAP mission is conducted because an aviator is taken down by hostile enemy fire and needs to be rescued from what could be imminent danger.
â€œYou know what youâ€™re going in for,â€ said Lance Cpl. Raymond Kummer, team leader, Co. G., 2/25. â€œWe know we had people to recover.â€
As the birdâ€™s wheels set down on the dirt, the Marines unbuckled their seatbelts and sprinted out of the back of the helicopter. Words were still useless, but each Marine knew what they had to do.
They formed a secure perimeter as the Phrog lifted off. Keeping eyes out for any hostiles in the area, the Marines moved toward their objective â€” the two downed airmen.
They effectively communicated with each other and provided security as the corpsman and a group of Marines provided medical attention to the simulated casualty and rolled him onto a stretcher.
With the packages ready for transport, the CH-46Es were signaled to land.
The Marines braced themselves for the sandstorm, created by the helicopters, rotorwash as they descended for pick up.
â€œOverall, I think we did well. The rehearsals helped a lot,â€ said Sgt. Joseph Patishnock, squad leader, Co. G., 2/25. â€œThis mission was definitely successful.â€