TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- Once again Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 464 aided ground troops during ongoing missions here Aug. 4 as part of Combined Arms Exercise 9-02.
A New River, N.C.-based '464' CH-53 and crew inserted "Triton-3" armed with an Intermediate Fast Attack Vehicle and two Kawasaki 650cc motorcycles to conduct reconnaissance and place sensors to detect enemy movement.
According to Gunnery Sgt. H.C. Bryant this type of training (using the 53s to insert IFAVs) is very unusual for his 2d Reconnaissance Battalion Marines.
The Hamstead, N.C., platoon sergeant said its purpose is to use the helicopter to insert the recon Marines far away, and then use the IFAV in the cover of darkness to move toward the objective. He said the 5-man team didn't navigate the entire mission via IFAV and motocycle, but exited the vehicles, camouflaged them, and hiked the rest of the way to place the sensors.
For Team Leader Sgt. Nick Marcolini, 21, this was no easy task. The Grosse Pointe, Mich., Marine said by using the IFAVs it forced him to make already difficult decisions, in a quicker and more proficient manner. He said the last thing he wanted to do was compromise his team to the enemy.
Marcolini said during a real-world situation this type of mission takes six-to-eight days. For Trition-3, 3rd Platoon, Charlie Company, the overall mission lasted only a day.
Marcolini said many people wonder why night vision goggles aren't used from an observation point to detect and count enemy movement. He said at night when a mechanized enemy moves, it creates one big dust cloud. He said the sensors accurately detect the movement's size.
Trition-3 team members include -- Cpl. Chuck Dishmon of Burke, Va.; Cpl. Felipe Nieves of Buffalo, N.Y.; Cpl. Jonathon Azar of Lake Havasu City, Ariz.; and Cpl. Nick Saroka of Lawrenceville, Ga.
Bryant said Charlie Company hasn't stopped since arriving here. He said besides the continuous recon missions supporting the overall exercise, the unit's hit most of the ranges, preformed live-fire drills and tossed grenades.
3rd Platoon, Charlie Company will complete CAX 9-02 later this month. Its sister company, Alpha, will replace them to support Marine Air Ground Task Force-2 for CAX 10-02.