BLT 3/6 Marines claim airfield during practice seizure

9 Apr 2001 | Cpl. Thomas Michael Corcoran

Marines from Battalion Landing Team 3/6 and Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron-365 (Reinforced) decided they had time for one last exercise on the way back from a two-week training cycle at Forts Pickett and A. P. Hill, Va., April 9. The Marines preformed an airfield seizure at Bogue Expeditionary Airfield, N.C. The seizure was carried out by approximately 130 infantrymen transported in six CH-46 Sea Knights and two CH-53 Super Stallion helicopters. The transport was escorted by two UH-1W Super Cobras and a UH-1N Huey. Before the actual seizure, two AV-8B II+ Harriers buzzed the area to take care of any threat that might interfere with the Marines. Then, the Huey and Cobra escorts scowered the ground as the "convoy" of aircraft landed and the "grunts" quickly dispersed themselves in a stealthy fashion along the flight line. It seemed that as the last man from each aircraft set foot on the ground, the "birds" were back in the air in seconds, having safely inserted the Marines. "We got in and out ASAP," said Cpl. Christopher A. Swift, HMM-365 (Rein.) crew chief. "The longer we're sitting on the deck the more of a threat we are to the safety of the Marines on the ground." Swift, a native of Redding, Calif., explained that the more training time his squadron and the BLT get early in the workups the better they will be able to communicate when the time comes to perform. Capt. Romin Dasmalchi, HMM-365 (Rein.) assistant operations officer, explained this particular exercise this early in the workups is extremely aggressive. "We usually don't do an airfield seizure till later on in the workups. We're about four months early." Dasmalchi explained that before the exercise, the two units intensely planned the training. "We came together with the scenario days before and used R2P2 [Rapid Response Planning Process] to come up with a plan to put into action." "The feasibility of the mission is there. I believe it's one of the missions (airfield seizure) of the MEU," said Dasmalchi. "The airfield seizure is one of the tools for a rapid [troop] build up." Capt. Daniel Q. Greenwood, BLT 3/6 operations officer, agreed with Dasmalchi. "This is a very logical scenario," he said. Greenwood explained that this exposure between the two units would work to speed up other missions like evacuations because of the familiarity between the operation and the relationships built between the air and ground Marines. Lance Cpl. Richard A. Frans, BLT 3/6 team leader, may have summed it up for all Marines when he said, "We've been in the field for a while. We're here to get our job done and go home."