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Marines train for tactical recovery of aircraft, personnel

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Marines in tactical aircraft and personnel recovery
A corpsman, left, with 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, treats a simulated injury on a Marine roleplaying as a pilot, June 10, at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., during a Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel course. For a TRAP mission, a platoon of Marines is flown into an objective area, where they secure the area before locating a downed aircraft and its personnel to bring them back to safety. Expeditionary Operations Training Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, conducted the course as an evaluation for Marines with 3/8, and with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 461, Marine Aircraft Group 29, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, in preparation for upcoming deployments.

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, North Carolina — As the roaring blades of a CH-53 Super Stallion resonate throughout the open field, its rear door lowers to the ground and infantry Marines move out to begin securing the area. Their mission: Find a downed pilot and bring him home.

Marines with 4th Platoon, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, participated in a Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel course, June 8 – 12, 2015, aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. Marines with Expeditionary Operations Training Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, conducted the training for 3/8 as an evaluation for their future missions.

“We’re operating in a fake country called Amberland,” said Capt. Larry Montreuil, assistant officer-in-charge for the Ropes and Recovery Branch, EOTG. “There was a pilot who had a mechanical failure in his F-16. The pilot parachuted out – it’s a good parachute, so we knew he was alive. It had his position signal going off, so we knew his approximate location. What would happen in a real-life scenario, [the platoon] would be on standby anytime there’s any kind of aviation missions. They would have gotten the call that there’s this F-16 pilot shot down, and they would have gone in to go get him. They would be the TRAP force platoon.”

TRAP missions ensure we keep with the idea of leave no Marine behind and ensure that sensitive information is recovered from the area, Montreuil said.

The Marines with 3/8 are participating in the evaluation to prepare for an upcoming deployment in support of Special Marine Air Ground Task Force-Crisis Response.

“The training is not anything super difficult, but it’s just about mastering the basics, continuing to get better as a platoon and get better as a team,” said Staff Sgt. Marc Chaplin, platoon sergeant for 4th Platoon. “We just had some of our squad leaders get back from school, so it’s our first time working with them as a platoon, but it’s all about teamwork. Its good training and we’re having fun doing it.”

Overall, the training was successful, and the Marines will be well prepared for future missions, Chaplin said.

“This type of mission is definitely something that’s relevant in the world today, with everything going on [overseas],” Montreuil said. “This is a very realistic, potential mission for these guys, and it’s good for [EOTG] as an outside agency looking in. We give them our advice on the tactics, techniques and procedures that they’re utilizing so they can go on and refine their skills.”

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