FORT HUNTER LIGGETT, Calif. -- Marines and Sailors from the Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel Platoon, Weapons Company, Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, out of Camp Pendleton, Calif., conducted fast-rope training here Dec. 1 in conjunction with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Training in an Urban Environment exercise.
The team, made up of about 24 Marines and Sailors, completed the evolution to familiarize itself with inserting into environments in which helicopters cannot land. It helps, not only with the recovery process, but with the search and rescue portion of the mission.
“If a pilot goes down in the mountains of Afghanistan it can be hard for a helicopter to land,” said Staff Sgt. Paul Haley, TRAP platoon sergeant. “This training will prepare us for fast roping into that sort of situation so we can recover the pilot and get him back to ship to safety.”
Not only was it a time for the TRAP Marines to get some training, but it also was a chance for pilots to fly with Marines in the back of their helicopters. As the Aviation Combat Element for the MEU, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron-163 (REIN) provided the CH-46E Sea Knights, pilots and aircrew for the training.
“That was my initial fast-rope exercise,” said 1st Lt. Chris M. Fosdahl, CH-46E pilot for HMM-163 (REIN) and Castro Valley, Calif. native. “For me it was about getting proficient in flying in that type of environment.”
The Marines started fast-roping at about 10 feet and eventually worked up to about 40 feet. Sergeant Alberto Boy, an Elmwood Park, Ill., native and a squad leader for TRAP Platoon, explained they start off slow and increase the hover height until the team feels comfortable with their ability to exit the aircraft.
“The training with the helicopters gives us a real-world taste,” said 1st Lt. Alexander Martin, Platoon Commander for TRAP Platoon and San Diego native. He expressed the training, because of the noise, speed and the chance to work with the pilots, was very successful.
The 13th MEU will complete its TRUE exercise Dec. 8. and will continue training for a spring deployment.