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Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel Platoon trains to rescue downed pilots

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In the unfortunate event that an aircraft goes down, pilots can rest assured the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit has trained a 24-man platoon to come and get them.

The Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel Platoon underwent specialized training under the supervision of I Marine Expeditionary Force’s Special Operations Training Group. The Marines and sailors honed their skills by performing a simulated recovery, here, May 10.

“We are doing everything to make the training for these Marines and sailors as realistic as possible,” said Maj. Scott A. Huesing, assistant operations officer, 15th MEU. “This scenario involves the TRAP Platoon recovering a downed pilot,” added the 42-year-old native of Chicago.

With a UH-1Y and an AH-1Z in the air providing escorts, the platoon landed in a CH-53E Super Stallion in a nearby location and immediately set up a security perimeter. As the helicopter took off and joined his escorts in the air, the platoon began patrolling in search of the pilot, using a honing beacon to find her location to bring her back to safety.

Other role players were staged in the training area simulating a hostile force, firing at the Marines during their resuce efforts. The rest of the platoon provided security while Sgt. Scott W. Ghilcrist, the TRAP Platoon’s recovery team leader, climbed up a tree and lowered the pilot to safety.

“They had two safeties and created a pulley system to help ease me down,” said Cpl. Brittany L. Jones, one of the role players and a radio operator, Command Element, 15th MEU. “They got me to the helicopter pretty quickly, and they did an excellent job. I’m sure if they were called upon to execute this mission in real life, it would go as well as it did today,” added the 25-year-old native of Elizabethtown, N.C.

The TRAP Platoon carried the pilot on a stretcher back to their helicopter and returned to base.

“In real life, the pilot could be incapacitated,” said Maj. Ruben Gutierrez, officer-in-charge of amphibious raids, SOTG, I MEF. “We build these scenarios off of missions that have really happened, such as the TRAP 26th MEU recently performed.”

This particular scenario is one of many the platoon will undergo to help improve their specialized skill set.

“The 15th MEU is the middleweight force that can handle missions big or small,” said Huesing. “The TRAP Platoon is one of the many tools the MEU commander can use to leverage a situation.”

The TRAP training was conducted as part of the ground portion of Realistic Urban Training, which the unit is conducting in preparation for their deployment scheduled for this fall.

Article by Cpl. John Robbart III, 15th MEU