February 6, 2013

It’s a TRAP! Marines Practice Recovery Ops

Story by Cpl. Bill Waterstreet
Photo by Cpl. Bill Waterstreet
Capt. Rasheed Bakkar, the flight officer for Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 268 and a native of Seattle, radios for extraction during a tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel exercise during the first Integrated Training Exercise at Twentynine Palms, Calif., Jan. 20, 2013. The TRAP is an exercise designed to rescue aviators, whether in hostile territory or not, in the event their aircraft is forced to the ground.

Finally, the sound of helicopters overhead, gunfire and explosions in the direction of the enemy, the sight of friendly forces streaming out of their transports. The wait has been excruciating, communication aggravating, every moment punctuated by the hope of rescue and the fear of capture. But now the running, hiding and waiting are done. Salvation is finally here. Salvation in the form of helicopters with “MARINES” painted on the side.

This may sound like a scene out of a Hollywood movie, but in reality it is the scene Capt. Rasheed Bakkar faced as he was evacuated from the desert of Twentynine Palms, Calif. during a tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel (TRAP) training exercise as part of the first Integrated Training Exercise, Jan. 20, 2013.

Bakkar was placed in a remote location a few kilometers from his simulated downed aircraft between the allied and enemy positions. There he waited until proper extraction could come for him.

A TRAP exercise is the process of rescuing a pilot and securing his aircraft should he be downed in a location far from his home base, whether it is in a hostile area or not. This process begins with finding the pilot utilizing unmanned aerial drones equipped with cameras and, depending on the aircraft, radio equipment. The pilot attempts to guide allied forces to his location if radio communication is possible.

After the stranded personnel is located, fixed wing attack aircraft protect the surrounding areas as troops deploy from helicopters to secure the area while the pilot is brought aboard the aircraft. Once contact is made with the downed pilot, his identity is authenticated to ensure the correct person is being retrieved.

Marines will never leave one of their own behind, and this exercise is the embodiment of that practice.

“The U.S. is never willing to give up one American citizen, one U.S. armed service member for any reason,” said Maj. David Slay, the MAG-13 future plans officer and a native of Escondido, Calif. “Anywhere the (Marine Expeditionary Unit) goes to, a TRAP is ready to be done at a moment’s notice.”

In operations as recent as the conflict in Libya, where the Marines of the 26th MEU rescued Maj. Kenneth Harney from his downed F-15E Strike Eagle, the effectiveness and importance of the TRAP can be seen.

“Being able to bring back our crew members who are down-field is absolutely priceless,” said Capt. Rasheed Bakkar, the Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 268 flight officer from Seattle.

Practice makes perfect, and nothing deserves perfection more than the rescue of a fellow Marine.

“If we don’t train for it then we can’t expect to be ready for it,” added Bakkar. “If I was down there, knowing the Marines coming for me have seen this before and done this before makes me very confident that they will be able to pick me up in a timely manner.”

Bakkar, who has now walked in the shoes no pilot wants to wear, echoes the sentiments of every aviator.

“I would never want to be out there in an actual hostile environment,” stated Bakkar. “But I’m glad I’ve had the training. If it was Iraq or Afghanistan, I would be hoping and praying someone would come pick me up.”

And as Bakkar returned home with an escort of dedicated brethren, it was clear that should the need ever arise, his prayers will be answered.

All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.



MFE, MCSCG, Air Ground Integration conference takes off

Marine Corps photograph by MSgt. William Price Maj. Thomas “Johnny” Short delivers a brief on the role of an air officer at the first ever Polish Air-Ground Integration conference, held at the Polish Armed Forces Ar...

Take a Stand

Mary Chipman, the Installation Sexual Assault Response Coordinator for MCAS Yuma and a Marine with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron perform a dramatic skit about sexual trauma. The skit was part of the first annual “...

The Avengers assemble in Exchange and Marvel’s latest military-only free comic

Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, Hulk, and Black Widow are all making their way to military installations around the world via one million free comic books published exclusively for the Armed Forces by the Army & Air Force E...


News to Use February 15, 2013

Financial management Military Saves Week runs Feb. 25-March 2. During Military Saves Week there will be four workshops to assist active duty and family members in saving. Investing in your Future: Monday, 6-8 p.m., Bldg. 598 – Understanding Investing. True Understanding of your Credit Report: Tuesday 1-3 p.m., Bldg. 598 – Review of Credit Report,...


Navy and Marines Corps Relief Society seeking volunteers on station New to town and looking to make friends? Is your spouse deployed and you want a productive way to pass the time? Maybe you want to get out of the house for a few hours a week? Or are you looking build your resume? Navy-Marine...

2013 MCI West Commander’s Conference

Photo by LCpl. Ryan E. Lampro, MCAS Yuma Combat Camera Marine Corps Installations West – Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton commanders, sergeants major and their spouses took part in the 2013 MCI West Commander’s Conference Jan. 23-24 at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz. The conference included a tour of the new facilities aboard MCAS...


Be the first to comment!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>