SATTAHIP, Thailand -- U.S. Marines and Royal Thai Navy firefighters conducted aircraft rescue and firefighting training scenarios during exercise Cobra Gold 2015 Feb. 17-18 at Utapao Royal Thai Navy Airfield, Kingdom of Thailand.
Service members practiced different evacuation and stability techniques on a decommissioned Thai military aircraft for the first day of training. Working together enabled the Marines and sailors to learn the standard operating procedures for each country.
Lance Cpl. Mark Hill, an aircraft rescue firefighter with Marine Wing Support Squadron 172, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, said the training was really beneficial for both parties.
“It’s a rare opportunity for any of us to get to practice on a scrap plane,” Hill said. “This training allows us to get the full experience as we cut through the side panels of the plane to create emergency evacuation holes.”
Even though the Marines and Thai Navy firefighters didn’t know each other before the exercise, they joined forces to finish the mission, according to Cpl. Justin Groom, an aircraft rescue firefighter with Marine Wing Support Squadron 172, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing.
“The whole time we have been out here our Thai counterparts have done very well learning our procedures and operating with us,” Groom said. “All of us have really enjoyed our time working together, and I’m really impressed that all of the training went so smoothly.”
The Marines and sailors used the aircraft on the second day of training for a fire response scenario in which a simulated plane crash had burst into flames. The real fire provided the firefighters the opportunity to work together to extinguish the fire and secure the scene.
“The class-A fire was a really unique experience because, for a lot of us, this has been our first time working with a live fire,” Groom said. “It really proved to the Marines and the Thai firefighters that this training is very important, and it is incredibly difficult to extinguish a fire in scenarios like this.”
The Marines and Thai Navy firefighters brought three different fire trucks and cycled multiple teams through extinguishing procedures before completely putting out the fire.
“All of our guys greatly appreciate the chance to work with the Thai Royal Navy firefighters,” Hill said. “They were completely cooperative with us, and I just want to thank them for allowing us to come here and train alongside them.”
Cobra Gold is an annual exercise, now in its 34th iteration, designed to advance regional security, improve cooperation with partner nations and find effective solutions to common challenges.