BRIDGEPORT, California — Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 462 “Heavy Haulers” conducted cold weather training at Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, California, from Jan. 31 to Feb. 15, 2017.
The squadron brought four CH-53E Super Stallions to MCMWTC to assist in pre-deployment training for Marines with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, who traveled from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
“HMH-462 is up at MCMWTC in support of 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, and they are here for their entire Mountain Warfare Training Course,” said Lt. Col. Ian Stevens, commanding officer of “Heavy Haulers” HMH-462. “We are here to support their final exercise at MCMWTC. We will insert them into their area of operation as well as the operational force that will be fighting against them.”
Mountain warfare training incorporates ground units and conditions Marines with HMH-462 to train at high altitudes. Increased training allows Marines to refine common skills and focus their attention on the mission-essential tasks necessary to deploy.
“It is important we get the kind of training we need…to accomplish the mission in terrain such as this,” said Staff Sgt. Jahbari Codes, HMH-462 operations chief.
Once Marines with 2/2 linked up with HMH-462, they began their insertion drills into simulated combat zones. The loading drills for both ground and air assets train the Marines to have muscle memory, preparing them for real-world missions.
“The on-load and off-load drills are important when we go into combat so Marines aren’t fumbling around with the basics,” said Lance Cpl. Chris Bodkin, assault section leader for 2/2. “With sticks of 15 Marines, they quickly load their heavy weight onto the center of the CH-53E while strapping in to take off.”
The CH-53E utilizes its heavy lift capability and maneuverability to play a key role in mountain warfare training situations.
“Not only is the CH-53E the best at performing external lifts, but it’s the only aircraft that can transport a company size element into their area of operation in this mountainous terrain,” said Stevens.
The training at MCMWTC guarantees HMH-462 Marines are one step closer to being deployment ready.
“I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to come to mountain warfare training, for the awesome terrain, and for the Marines I get to fly with and the ground guys I get to support,” said Stevens. “It’s an incredible opportunity that doesn’t befall many in their career. It’s pretty humbling.”
By Sgt. Lillian Stephens