CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, Japan -- Landing support specialist Marines with Landing Support Company (LS Co), 3rd Transportation Support Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 3, 3rd Marine Logistics Group conducted external lift training at Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan, Jan. 14-16, 2019.
LS Co., 3rd TSB supported Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing during the training, which ensured pilots and landing support specialists are able to communicate and transport gear from one location to another. The training provided valuable flight practice hours for pilots as well as field training for LS Co. Three helicopter support team (HST) missions we're flown out from at Godfrey Field, Camp Foster and taken to Range 17, Camp Hansen, according to 1st Sgt Kyle DuBois, company first sergeant for LS Co., 3rd TSB.
“Helicopter support team missions give us the opportunity to attach a payload beneath an aircraft, whether it be a vehicle or other payload […] within a sling configuration for transport from one location to another, possibly to avoid terrain that would otherwise not be trafficable," DuBois said.
External lifts involve Marines utilizing an apex, which is a metal ring that connects a cargo load to the bottom of an aircraft for air transportation.
“The main two aircraft we complete the helicopter support team mission set with are the CH-53E Super Stallion and MV-22B Osprey,” Dubois said. “Those are the Marine Corps’ heavy lift assets for rotary wing aircraft […] these are the assets we rehearse with to prepare for real world scenarios.”
To connect the cargo load to the underside of the aircraft, the HST, which consists of up to four Marines, battle hurricane-force winds from the aircraft rotor wash to connect the apex to an electrified dangling hook.
“Under an [MV-22B Osprey] is pretty rough stuff,” said Sgt. Garrick Kocan, the operations chief for LS Co., 3rd TSB. “I don’t think I ever experienced anything like it before I joined the Marine Corps and started doing my [military occupational specialty]. You’re fighting for your feet the entire time you’re out there.”
The LS Co. Marines and the VMM-265 pilots worked together to build and refine the skills necessary to execute safe and successful external lifts in order to transport much needed equipment and supplies to designated areas.