MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
A duo of CH-53E Super Stallion transport helicopters barreled through the sky, each transporting a team of Marines determined to retrieve their downed fellow Marine. After the helicopters landed in the valley below, the objective area, the Marines shuffled out of the cargo doors and established a defensive perimeter. The aircraft withdrew from the area and a quiet was reinstated to the valley, but only for the moment.
Marines with Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, conducted aerial Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel, or TRAP, operations at Camp Pendleton, Feb. 10, 2016, in preparation for their upcoming deployment with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.
The TRAP scenarios offered by the Expeditionary Operations Training Group, which include both day and night portions, are meant to give the Marines of 2/4 essential knowledge to tactically recover personnel, equipment or aircraft by inserting the recovery force to the objective location.
“In preparation for an upcoming deployment, we are integrating closely with our air combat element, getting familiar with how they employ their aircraft, and learning how we can work together to coordinate and quickly get in and out of an objective area with an isolated target,” said 1st Lt. Justin J. Whitaker, a Houston native and TRAP commander with 2/4.
To ensure that goal is met, EOTG personnel provide scenarios for 2/4 to work through.
During this scenario, Marines inserted into daunting rocky terrain by two CH-53E Super Stallion cargo helicopters from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 462, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, tasked with retrieving a simulated downed pilot from the objective area.
Once the pilot was located, he was transported back to the initial landing zone, where the Marines extracted from the area by helicopter with the recovered Marine.
“This mission serves as a realization for the Marines, establishing them as a jack-of-all-trades, giving them a different perspective beyond the standard duties of a mortarman,” said Lance Cpl. Nicholas O’Neill, a Rocheport, Missouri, native and a squad leader with 2/4. “I want them to understand that through this training and our relationship with the aircraft wing, we will become faster, better and stronger, ready for any [recovery mission].”
In addition to the daytime recovery training, the unit also conducted a night TRAP exercise with aerial support from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 165, MAG 16, 3rd MAW.
“All throughout the week we’ve been studying terrain models and maps of the target area, along with being briefed the five paragraph mission orders and conducting night and day rehearsal drills to prepare us for the TRAP mission,” said Sgt. Trevor Wilson, a Leon, Iowa, native, and a section leader with 2/4.
Combat preparedness is everything, according to Whitaker. Although they are formally mortarmen by trade, TRAP scenarios, like those conducted by 2/4, provide Marine’s with the basic capabilities needed to efficiently accomplish a rescue and recovery mission.