FORT HUNTER LIGGETT, Calif. --
U.S. Marines with the 81mm Mortar Platoon assigned to Battalion Landing Team 2/1, the ground combat element of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducted a Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel (TRAP) mission during Realistic Urban Training (RUT) Exercise at Fort Hunter Liggett, California, Sept. 1, 2015, as part of pre-deployment training for their upcoming deployment to the Western Pacific and Central Command areas of operation.
“Whenever any friendly vehicle goes down, whether from mechanical failure or enemy action, a commander may decide to push out a team to recover it and the troops within via TRAP mission,” said Gunnery Sgt. Leonard Tardiff, the 81mm’s Section “A” Chief and assistant TRAP Force commander for the mission. “The helicopter-borne TRAP force is ready to fly out on command to bring our guys home.”
According to Tardiff, TRAP missions are not limited to recovering airborne assets, and can be extended to land or sea-based troops in distress as well. A TRAP mission’s focus is balanced between retrieving personnel, equipment or sensitive materials.
“The MEU has a lot of air assets that lend themselves to TRAP missions, like the MV-22 Osprey, which can fly long distances and land almost anywhere,” Tardiff said. “Those helicopters give us the capability to reach out and bring our guys home where they belong.”
During their exercise mission, the Marines touched down in hostile territory and retrieved a simulated downed airplane’s crew who were evading enemy capture. TRAP assignments like this can come at any time, so the Marines in the force take care to train like it’s game time, every time.
“It’s really important the Marines feel the urgency once we’re on the move,” said Cpl. Donovan Lapat, a mortarman with BLT 2/1 and TRAP support team leader. “It could be any of us out there one day, and they all agree they would want to be recovered as soon as possible.”
With the Marines of the TRAP force prepared to recover assets and bring troops home, the Fighting 13th MEU remains manned, trained and equipped to fight in any clime and place.