CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Four U.S. Marine Corps M198 Howitzers were recently airlifted by two U.S. Army CH-47D Chinooks during Exercise Rolling Thunder in Fort Bragg, N.C.
In an era of joint training, two Marine helicopter support teams from Combat Service Support Detachment-25's Landing Support Platoon and personnel from Charlie Battery, 1st Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, helped to first prepare and then attach the 8-ton artillery pieces to the Army heavy-lift helicopters.
"This is the first time my Marines have worked with the 47," said Staff Sgt. Robert Pullen, the CSSD's operation chief and landing support specialist. "It's important for us to work with different types of aircraft, so the Marines can gain experience."
The task completed a training scenario in which the 155mm guns were moved to a new firing line from Fort Bragg's LZ Marshall by air and then re-employed with their next firing mission.
In doing this, the nine-man HST teams first rigged the howitzers with Charlie Battery's help and then waited for the 'birds' to hover over the guns. The teams then hooked the 40-foot weapon to the Chinook.
Pullen explained there were dangers his Marines faced when they performed this maneuver. He said that first his Marines had to be aware and prepare for the electricity caused by the helicopter's rotating blades; and second, the HST teams worked in torrential winds.
However, he also said even though there were dangers, there was an aspect to this exercise that may give his CSSD Marines an advantage for future HST operations.
"We normally do this with our CH-46s which have a dangling hook attached to the airframe," he said. "The 47 has a fixed hook much like the V-22 Osprey. So the configuration we used today, may be used in our future ops."
According to HST Marine Cpl. Gilbert Dardar, an exercise like this helps to make a team, that's literally thrown together from all kinds of backgrounds, tighter.
"The best part about the lift was that our team had to rely on one another to accomplish the mission and make sure each person was in a safe position," the Houma, La., native said.
Besides the howitzers, the Chinooks and the Marines also moved a humvee, a ML4000 forklift and two palates of ammunition; all of which were needed in the continued fire-mission.
CSSD-25 was in support of Marine Air-Ground Task Force-10 during Rolling Thunder. Their service-support assets were used mainly to support artillery batteries of the 10th Marine Regiment.