Naval aircrew rescues Marine pilot

A Navy search and rescue team rescued a Marine Corps pilot off the coast of North Carolina after he ejected from his jet, May 6.

The jet — an AV-8B Harrier from Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 542 of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in Cherry Point, N.C. — was found by another Marine aircraft. A distress call was sent to USS Wasp (LHD 1), which was operating nearby.

A SAR crew from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22 was aboard the Wasp when they received notification of the call.

Within five minutes, the crew was aboard an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter anf en route to the downed jet. In less than 20 minutes, the helicopter arrived at the scene, deployed the SAR swimmer, and recovered the pilot.

Lt. j.g. John Smaok, the helicopter’s pilot, said his training kicked into action immediately after word was given to save the pilot.

“We train for this so much,” said Smaok. “From my perspective, we just execute when we get a call for something like this.”

The Sea Hawk, the U.S. Navy’s primary search helicopter, has a crew of four Sailors, including a rescue swimmer.

“This was our crew’s first rescue, so this is exactly what we have been training for,” said Naval Aircrewman (Helicopter) 3rd Class Logan Parkinson. “In the end, it all worked as we planned and got him up safely.”

The pilot was taken nearby to Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune and was released later that evening.

The cause of the incident is currently under investigation.

Wasp is underway with the Wasp Amphibious Ready Group participating in composite training unit exercise.

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