MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 161 supported Marines preparing to deploy with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit during casualty-evacuation training at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Jan. 20.
The training began with the Marines on the ground calling for a casualty evacuation to the Marines in the air.
“We played the scenario as if someone was down, hurt or had some kind of injury in the zone, and we extracted them and took them to a safe zone,” said Cpl. Joshua Payne, a crew chief with VMM-161 and a Spring, Texas, native.
Communication between the Marines on the ground and the Marines in the air are crucial to accomplishing a casualty evacuation.
“It’s important that the guys on the ground convey what they need from us in the air,” said Capt. Nicholas Pretty, a pilot with VMM-161 and a San Jose, California, native. “It’s also important that the communication controller is able to move the aircraft to injured personnel.”
During this training, pilots with VMM-161 must land in an unprepared field to simulate a combat zone. Pilots check for obstructions before landing with the help of the crew chiefs.
“As a crew chief on an MV-22B Osprey, we must keep our head on a swivel and have a high sense of situational awareness so we can clear the aircraft into the zone and call it down to the deck,” said Payne.
Casualty evacuation is one of the most important parts of predeployment training because Marines must be able to get injured personnel out of dangerous areas in a timely and efficient manner in order for them to receive necessary medical attention.
“Prior to deployment, we do casualty-evacuation training a lot,” said Pretty. “When we aren’t working toward a deployment, [we do this] about once a month.”
It’s important for them to get back to the basics of their core mission since the Marines of VMM-161 recently returned from a deployment, according to Payne.
“We are used to a more amphibious type of flying,” said Payne. “The core of our mission is assault support, which includes confined-area landings, landing in the dirt or any kind of dust, flying higher up in the mountains and low-altitude tactics. It’s important for us to stay proficient and current in that training.”