CENTRAL TRAINING AREA, OKINAWA, Japan -- Marines accompanied by a working dog descended on a rope from a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter. Once on the ground, the tracking dog led the Marines through the jungle in search of three simulated downed aircrew.
The Marines conducting the tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel exercise were with 3rd Law Enforcement Battalion, III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, in support of exercise Blue Chromite 15 Nov. 5.
Blue Chromite demonstrates the Marine Corps’ expeditionary capabilities in the Pacific region. Rehearsing integration of arms in a tactical scenario prepares Marines for future deployments.
“When aircraft go down and there are isolated personnel, or IP’s, the Marine Corps has to go find them,” said 1st Lt. Christina M. Nymeyer, a platoon with 3rd LE Bn. “Once we know they are alive and we know their location, that’s when they launch the TRAP force. We go in. We secure them. We authenticate their data to make sure that they are in fact the aircrew who went down and not someone in disguise.”
The planners of Chromite wanted to do a TRAP scenario not only for their training standards, but also for real life situations that may arise during the exercise.
“This was the first time we have ever fast roped out of a (CH-53) and conducted training as real as we can get it,” said Lance Cpl. Cody J. Vassar, a military policeman with 3rd LE Bn. “It was a little different. But, all in all it went well. We learned to work on our communication a little more and we completed the mission in good time and successfully rescued all three downed aircrew.”
During the exercise, the Marines came in contact with simulated enemy, traversed several streams and climbed hills to reach their objectives. This was also the first time they worked closely with air units.
“It was definitely a success today” said Vassar from Bliss, New York. “We had a k-9 tracker dog with us and she found the first two pilots and we secured that location and found the third pilot at our LZ pickup location.”
Cpl. Nicholas B. Majerus, a military policeman and working dog handler with 3rd LE Bn., employed his dog, Sgt. Iggi, a combat tracking dog, to help find the lost Marines. Iggi was able to use a hat dropped by one of the downed aircrew to get a scent from.
“It was a big confidence booster knowing that everybody is watching me and my dog and I can still perform,” said Majerus, from Mazeppa, Minnesota. “It’s my job to use my combat tracking dog to track them down. Obviously they were trying to move fast and get out of that area before the enemy found them. My dog picked the scent up and she followed their trail all the way through the jungle and up to the LZ.”