An intense Marine training scenario in Warner Springs on Wednesday simulated the real-life rescue of a downed pilot in enemy territory.
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Within seconds of a CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter touching down, members of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) based at Camp Pendleton are deployed to the ground.
"It's kind of like roadside assistance with firepower," said Maj. Scott Huesing, who is with the 15th MEU.
During the training exercise, as some Marines take cover, another group worked to determine the coordinates of downed pilot, who is equipped with a homing beacon.
The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit training on Wednesday is a spitting image of the 26th MEU, which was called in to recover the pilot of an F-15 that crashed in Libya in March of last year. Just like that real world scenario, the training simulates the recovery of a downed service member under dangerous conditions.
"The end result is always mission success," said Huesing.
But that is not always easy when out of nowhere, the enemy attacks. As the 15th MEU fires back during the training exercise, others locate and tend to the barely conscious pilot.
In the exercise, ground forces maintain a perimeter and one Marine scales a tree where the injured pilot is located, rigs the pilot and eases her down. She is then placed on a stretcher and carried out of the area while Marine helicopters circled overhead.
"Their mission is to recover the aircraft or downed pilot
as fast as they possibly can, without hazarding the force," said Huesing.
When the Sea Stallion touches back down, the 15th MEU is anxiously waiting just a few hundred feet away with their injured comrade, which is what they call the extract point. The goal is to get the injured comrade in that helicopter and out of this area before anyone else on the mission is injured.
When everyone is inside, the Sea Stallion lifts off. Once it flies out of the danger zone, the mission is complete.
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