MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
When a U.S. Air Force pilot went down in Libya in March, the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit responded quickly with a Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel mission and successfully brought the pilot home.
Incidents like this are the reason why Marines with 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, teamed up with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 365 from Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C., for a TRAP exercise in the Combat Center’s training area on July 31, 2011.
Unlike standard combat search and rescue missions, a TRAP mission is self-contained within the elements of a Marine Air Ground Task Force, said Capt. Robert Preston, the standardization officer and a pilot with VMM-365.
Ready for anything, Marines train to act quickly the moment word is passed that a pilot has gone down.
“We focus on the short term,” said Capt. Nicholas Arnold, the exercise’s operations officer. “Someone goes down, we go get them. We use quick response force, which is what the Marine Corps is known for.”
The Combat Center’s vast training area was the ideal location for the TRAP exercise. Low light conditions were an added challenge for the pilots and ground forces.
With the mission clear, the Marines loaded up into MV-22 Ospreys at the Enhanced Mojave Viper flight line to rescue a notionally downed pilot. Throughout the mission, the Marines worked silently and efficiently.
Upon touching down in the landing zone, the Marines made quick work locating and retrieving the stranded pilot.
With the pilot safely onboard the aircraft, the Marines made their way back.
“I think the mission went well,” said Preston. “I think we learned a lot, and that will pay off in the upcoming months in Afghanistan.”
The VMM-365 Marines are scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan early next year.