MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – The Osprey is a bird that can dive into water, grasp prey with its talons and fly away with a meal. The powerful bird shares the same name as a Marine Corps aircraft, the MV-22 Osprey, which can hover 10 feet above the ground where Marines can connect mission-essential gear to it to be transported to Marines in the fight.
Landing Support Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 17, 1st Marine Logistics Group’s helicopter support team conducted a night field training exercise with Ospreys at the San Mateo Helicopter Landing Zone July 1.
During the training evolution, LS Co. Marines coordinated with from Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C., for two Ospreys to pick up and drop off a 1,000 pound concrete block during the night. To pick up a load, an LS Co. Marine would attach a rope with the block to the Osprey while fighting the 225 mph wind caused by the aircraft. To drop off a load, the tilt-rotor aircraft would lower the block to the ground and detach the rope. Each aircraft did approximately 15 lifts during the exercise.
“The training is going to benefit the landing support Marines and the Osprey’s pilots and crewmembers for deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Cpl. Heather L. Sievers, 20, from Coal Valley, Ill., a landing support specialist with 1st Platoon, LS Co. “The Marines will be more familiarized with lifting the loads.”
Landing Support Company conducts about three helicopter support team exercises every two weeks.
“Landing support specialist Marines might do one external lift while at the school house,” said Sgt. Cory M. Martin, platoon sergeant, 1st Platoon, LS Co. “Once the Marines get to the fleet, they become more proficient at their job.”
“The more practical application we do, the better we’re going to get,” said Martin, 24, from Morgantown, Pa. “We do dry runs a couple days prior until it’s muscle memory.”
While deployed, Ospreys and other helicopters in the Marine Corps are used to deliver howitzers, ammunition, humvees and other vital equipment needed for the mission.
Prior to a load being picked up by an aircraft, crew chiefs and pilots land near the site to dismount and physically check that the load is properly secured. This procedure can change depending on the mission. The loads are usually inspected by the aircraft crew during training exercises and on bases while deployed. It’s not as common in hostile areas. This procedure is done by every crew, no matter the aircraft, to ensure the loads are properly secured to effectively carry out the assigned tasks.
“Pilots and crew chiefs remain effective in theater by constantly doing this training with the Marines on the ground,” said Lance Cpl. Andrew W. Harris, 22, from Houston. “These missions become second nature for the Marines.”
Martin added that the Marines try different ways to stand up and fight the powerful winds from the aircraft every time they conduct a training mission.
“We are constantly training to hone our skills,” said Sgt. Asdrubal V. Estrada, a landing support specialist with LS Co.
Estrada stated that each aircraft’s design affects the way it picks up loads.
“We have to train with every bird to know their capabilities,” said Estrada, 29, from Calexico, Calif. “The Osprey is more powerful and a lot faster than the CH-46 Sea Knight.”
It’s these training exercises that help keep LS Marines ready to deploy and supply the gear needed for the fight.