TORII STATION, Japan – Marines with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 262 supported a training exercise with their brothers-in-arms from the U.S. Army’s 1st Special Forces Group on Torii Station Aug. 31.
Soldiers with 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group, conducted fast-rope drills using Marine CH-46E Sea Knight helicopters operated by pilots and crewman with HMM-262, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Air Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, in an effort to improve the combat readiness of both the Marine helicopter crews and the soldiers who conducted the tactical egress.
Not only does the training with U.S. Army counterparts strengthen the tie between Marines and soldiers, but it allows the Marines an opportunity to sharpen skills useful in real-world events, said Capt. Travis J. Wisniewski, a CH-46 pilot with HMM-262.
“This teaches the Marines what happens in the cabin of the aircraft during fast-roping and (special purpose insertion and extraction)-rigging evolutions,” said Staff Sgt. Peter J. DiMartino, a CH-46 crew chief with HMM-262. “The training teaches them the procedures to ensure everything happens safely and in a timely manner.”
As the soldiers conducted fast-roping drills in tandem, in fire teams and squads, the Marines accomplished their own responsibilities to ensure the success of the exercise. Aircraft pilots ensured the helicopter was hovering steadily and at the appropriate elevation. Crewmen properly secured all equipment required for the exercise.
“As crewmen, we are responsible for what happens in the cabin,” said DiMartino. “We are the eyes and ears of the pilots for the rest of the bird.”
The flight surgeon with HMM-262, Navy Lt. Micah J. Gaspary, also had a part to play. Gaspary was tasked with overseeing the medical aspect of the exercise. If needed, he would have administered aid necessary to any wounded personnel and coordinated the support for further care. However, the exercise was completed without incident.
“Training like this is important because it improves our state of readiness through special insertion and extraction techniques,” said Wisniewski.
Although the fast-roping exercise was conducted with the Army, proper planning and preparation will enable Marine infantrymen to conduct similar training with helicopter crews, said DiMartino.