CAMP LEJEUNE, North Carolina -- Landing support specialists with Combat Logistics Battalion 2, Combat Logistics Regiment 2, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, conducted helicopter support team operations at Landing Zone Albatross aboard Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Jan. 29, 2015.
The HST operations were performed along with pilots from Marine Heavy Helicopter Training Squadron 302, Marine Aircraft Group 29, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.
“What we do is we come out here for the (2nd Marine Air Wing) and we attach an 8,500 pound beam to the bottom of their aircraft to help the pilots get certified,” said 1st Lt. Jordan Leonard, a landing support platoon commander with CLB-2. “HSTs benefit the landing support specialists as well because it is an annual training requirement; however, we only have to do one, once per year. Normally, we execute helicopter support team operations eight times per month.”
Landing support Marines spend several hours performing these operations with different units from the 2nd MAW. Marines will constantly rotate individuals so that every Marine present can be efficient in every position on a helicopter support team.
“Typically, we have five to six Marines out here with the helicopter,” said Cpl. Lorenzo Knowles, a landing support specialist with CLB-2. “Depending on if they’re doing a single-point or dual-point hook-up, we will have one or two hook-up men and then a static man to ground out the helicopter since it does generate a lot of electricity.”
In addition, there is a Marine directing the pilot as they communicate and guide the pilot so the Marines underneath the helicopter can perform their mission safely and effectively, as well as a safety Marine who ensures everything is running according to plan.
“As soon as we get the helicopter hooked up, the safety will be last person to leave,” said Knowles. “He will make sure everything is hooked up properly, that none of his fellow teammates are in danger and will tell them to back up once the load is secure.”
The process can become dangerous is not executed correctly. Factors such as the wind generated from the aircraft and the aircraft hovering a few feet above Marines on the ground make safety a top priority.
While the purpose behind these helicopter support team operations is to help 2nd MAW pilots become qualified in day and night external lifts, it is as beneficial to the landing support Marines as it is to the pilots.
“First, they are able to get their annual certification out of the way,” said Leonard. “Secondly, it helps the Marines build their leadership. We have lance corporals who have the opportunity to take charge in a mission that truly helps out the wing.”