MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT --
Seven Marines and Sailors with Marine Transport Squadron 1 clambered into the HH-46E Sea Knight, dubbed Pedro, and within minutes the visually distinct, orange and black, search and rescue aircraft had taken to the skies. The group began their expedition heading west down the Carolina coast snapping photos and observing the hustle and bustle below them.
The three-hour journey April 27, took the Marines from Morehead City, to New Bern, N.C. and throughout the local area as Cpl. Orlando Perez, a combat photographer with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron here took photos of landing zones used by the unit for quick response emergencies.
Maj. Andrew Smith, the assistant operations officer with VMR-1, said the Marines conducted a morning range sweep to ensure fishermen, duck season hunters and recreational boaters maintained appropriate clearances from the off-limit targets used for military training.
“Additionally, this morning’s mission included follow-on training involving an (area familiarization) for one of our new crew chiefs,” said Smith.
Lance Cpl. Anthony DiCola, a crew chief with VMR-1, used the time to gain insight on approach paths for the landing zones and potential obstacles at night.
DiCola recently transferred to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., where he was a crew chief in a tactical CH-46. He said that, as of late, he’s spent a lot of time in the air learning the ins and outs of what it takes to be in a search and rescue squadron.
“We’re a unique unit compared to the other squadrons here,” said DiCola. “Our job isn’t only to support the other units, but also go out and help the civilians in the area here too.”
Smith said though the day was of a more routine nature, the search and rescue mission is always exciting and keeps them on their toes with an endless number of possible scenarios.
“The most enjoyable aspect of the SAR mission is the satisfaction that comes after a successful mission,” said Smith.
Much like a Marine Expeditionary Unit prepares for a diverse range of possible missions we also prepare for a wide range of potential situations that include over-water searches, recoveries, boat rescues, over-land searches, hoisting, high-angle recoveries, scene-medical evacuations, patient transfers and aerial firefighting, said Smith. Exiting Pedro the Marines and Sailor walked away from another successful day in the air, taking with them tools to be better prepared for missions to come.