CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
The mission of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 772 is to provide assault support and transport of heavy equipment, combat troops and supplies. During Exercise Caribbean Warrior, Marines attached to HMH-772, a reserve unit assigned to the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Forces Reserve, were able to hone in those skills alongside Dutch Marines from the 32nd Raiding Squadron on Marine Corps Air Station New River and Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.
“One of the many challenges of being in the aviation field and being a reservist is planning and communication,” said U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Jason W. Stapleton, operations officer for HMH-772. “Communication is key so that everyone can coordinate and execute when called upon.”
After accounting for all ready reservists in the unit, HMH-772 was activated on March 17, 2022 to provide support for Exercise Caribbean Urban Warrior. The annual bilateral exercise between 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion and the Dutch 32nd Raiding Squadron composed of live-fire sniper training, close-air support training, close quarter marksmanship, urban patrols, key-leader engagements, high-altitude low-opening parachute jumps and a final scenario-based urban exercise.
“Getting a lot of the reserve pilots in this exercise and having them work with ground units and international partners was great. It felt good to get back in the fight.” Maj. Jason W. Stapleton, operations officer for HMH-772
As the exercise conducted, HMH-772 led the way in providing support to infantry units on the ground. Not only did they assist with Exercise Caribbean Urban Warrior, they simultaneously participated in Rolling Thunder, an annual live-fire artillery exercise. The success that the unit has shown in these exercises is what’s helped them take charge in their engagement in upcoming aviation exercises supported by the range and training facilities and landing zones on MCB Camp Lejeune and MCAS New River.
“The ground units were very happy with the support,” said Stapleton. “Every year, new advancements within our field are made, and it’s great to have ground units get to experience the advancements first hand with us.”
Exercise Caribbean Urban Warrior concluded on April 1, 2022, marking the third time the exercise has been executed. Exercise Caribbean Urban Warrior ensures Marines not only stay sharp in their own fields, but additionally allow them the opportunity to work with partner forces to ensure our interoperability and a fuller cooperation in times of war.
“We hope to be used more in the future to help out active-duty units that are heavily tasked,” said Stapleton. “The aviation reserves are a valuable tool to be used and have proven to be a good force in readiness.”
Coming on the heels of a successful exercise, HMH-772 and reserve units like it, serve as a vital part of surge readiness and ensure that no matter the task Marines are given, they will successfully execute and excel as partner forces.