FPRT BLISS, TEXAS --
FORT BLISS, Texas - Marines with the 2nd Combat Logistics Regiment attached to Task Force 2-8, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division practiced sling loading vehicles and equipment to a CH-47 Chinook helicopter with the help of the Army’s 1st Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment, 1st Armored Division, 2nd Brigade Combat Team at the Dona Anna training area on Fort Bliss, Texas, April 7, 2014.
The training was for landing support specialists to prepare and sharpen their already refined skills for the upcoming Network Integration Exercise, where they will be called on to provide external loads for re-supply to forward operating units with TF 2-8.
The Marines performed a total of five lifts. An elevator lift, which is a simple lift straight off the ground and then set down of the cargo, with a training Humvee attached by a 25,000 pound sling load and flew four patterns with 1,000 pounds of tires packed in a 10,000 pound cargo net.
“For the training we were able to pick a load of our choice to hook onto the CH-47 in order to meet their qualifications so they could support us for the upcoming NIE training exercise,” said Marine Sgt. Zachery Jones, a landing support operations chief from Madison, Wis. “Also we’re working with Echo Company, [2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment] to teach them how to properly hook-up and receive external loads for re-supplies without damaging the equipment or injuring someone during NIE.”
Before landing support specialists began their lift exercises, they gave classes to Marines from Weapons Company and Echo Company on preparing a load, receiving a load, and successfully hooking up an external load on the helicopter. Landing support Marines performed the tasks during training, while selected Marines from Echo Co. watched while standing next to them.
Marines from Echo Co. learned the four primary jobs on a Helicopter Support Team from the landing support Marines. How to be the outside and inside director, hook up man, and static man; the inside director guides the pilots to hover over the cargo, while the outside director mimics his hand and arm signals in case pilots cannot see him, the hook up man attaches the external load to the helicopter, and the static man grounds out the static electricity generated by the helicopters rotors so the hook up man can safely attach the load.
“The helicopter rotors can generate up to 200,000 volts of electricity,” said Jones. “It’s not enough to kill someone, but it’s enough to ruin their day.”
“Training out here was way different than back at Lejeune,” said Lance Cpl. Danielle Aldrich, a landing support specialist from Story City, Iowa. “We do this type of training twice a week at Lejeune with about 10-15 lifts at each one. So I’m very confident in my team. This isn’t the first time we’ve all operated together, so that makes the training easier just because we know how everyone works and it’s all muscle memory at this point.”
As the helicopter came in to pick up a load, a wall of dust made seeing the pick-up and drop offs near to impossible for spectators outside and inside the sand storm. That’s when muscle memory kicked in and everything was able to still run smoothly, because of the prior training done at Camp Lejeune, said Aldrich.
For all the Marines, except Jones, this was their first time working with an Army air unit. The exercise ran as smoothly as working with the Marines’ air squadrons.
“The Marines performance and training went far beyond my expectations,” said Jones. “Everything about it went smooth. Even working in the brown outs everything worked perfectly. I can see this being used several times a week in the upcoming NIE exercise based on our performance today.”