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Marines participate in tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel training mission in conjunction with a deployment for training exercise with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 161 at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Dec. 6. The purpose of the training is to ensure the Marines are able to employ the skills needed to respond to recover personnel, aircraft or sensitive material.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Tristan Engstrom

Greyhawks sink talons into TRAP mission

16 Dec 2016 | PFC. Liah Kitchen Marine Corps Air Station Miramar

Marines with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 161, “Greyhawks,” conducted tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel (TRAP) training mission at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Dec. 6. 

The TRAP was part of the squadron’s overall deployment for training exercise at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada. 

A TRAP mission is performed specifically for the recovery of aircraft, personnel and equipment in the event that an aircraft goes down either due to mechanical failures or by enemy fire.

“TRAP is very important because anywhere we go, we have to have a plan to recover the personnel, aircraft and any sensitive material in the event that they go down,” said Capt. Jason Noll, a pilot and the future operations officer at VMM-161.

During a TRAP mission, Marines are tasked with the extraction or destruction of downed aircraft to prevent sensitive material from being spread.

The Greyhawks are preparing to deploy with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, where they will be expected to conduct several missions including TRAP in order to maintain mission readiness. 

“It’s a very important mission that we could be tasked to complete on the 15th MEU, in order to augment the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force in the future,” said Noll.

A Marine expeditionary unit is an expeditionary quick reaction force that is deployed to respond rapidly to any crisis, whether it is a combat mission or a natural disaster.

According to Navy Lt. Stephen Dumontier, a flight surgeon with VMM-161, it is critical to be able to respond as quickly as possible in order to safely bring Marines home.

“It is important we train to a high standard as well, as a realistic standard, to be able to quickly recover personnel, as well as assist in theater,” said Noll. “Time is a huge factor so it’s something we have to be able to do quickly.”

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