MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJUENE N.C. --
The silence of the tree line is shattered as a Marine yells, “ETA one minute!” The tree line bustles as the Marines prepare to embark on an inbound helicopter. Within moments the chopper tears over the horizon, landing in the secured landing zone where Marines await to evacuate a casualty.
This was the scene as Marines with Company F, Anti-Terrorism Battalion, attached to 2nd Marine Division, conducted a day of helicopter operations aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Oct. 20.
The training consisted of landing zone insertion, extraction and casualty evacuation drills supported by a CH-53E Super Stallion with the Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 366, stationed aboard Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C.
“Doing these drills and rehearsals is great training,” said Sgt. Vanderbilt Gaditano, squad leader, 4th squad, 4th platoon, Co. F. “It’s really about improving our communication and having good tactics, techniques and procedures set out for us before we have to deal with these kinds of situations in a combat environment.”
The Marines received classes on the capabilities of the many helicopters used by the Marine Corps prior to conducting the training.
“It’s important to know the capabilities of each platform and what they can carry so when air arrives, we know exactly how many people can get on,” said Staff Sgt. David Tellefsen, platoon sergeant, 4th platoon, Co. F. “The Marines also have to know how to quickly secure a landing zone for both helo insertions and exertions because time is always a factor when dealing with air.”
Over the course of the training each platoon performed two casualty evacuation drills in which a junior Marine was responsible for calling in a nine-line medical evacuation request.
“Practice, practice, practice,” said Gaditano. “It’s not going to get any better unless we actually do it, and for a lot of us, this is our first time getting to work with air, talking to them and learning the procedures.”
As the day's training came to a close, the Marines boarded the helicopter for one last exercise in which they extracted to the final landing zone.
“This is 90 percent of the company’s first time flying in a helicopter, so everyone’s doing extremely well despite that,” said Tellefsen. “This has been really good training.”
[Editor’s Note] Company F, Anti Terrorism Battalion, 4th Marine Division is a Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force designed to rapidly organize, train and deploy specially trained and sustainable task forces to detect, deter and defend against terrorism, as well as to conduct crisis response in the event of a terrorist attack. Co. F is attached to 2nd Marine Division while being supported by Marine forces based in Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. Co. F, AT Battalion is comprised of Marine reservists from Marine Corps bases across the U.S. in states that include Hawaii, Louisiana, Alabama, Tallahassee, Florida, Mississippi, New York., Massachusetts and many more.