VMM-161 supports 5th Battalion, 11th Marines with CAS EVAC

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Story by PFC Jake McClung on 08/18/2016
Marines with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 161 supported 5th Battalion, 11th Marines, during a casualty evacuation exercise aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Aug. 17.

This exercise involved around 40 Marines loading simulated casualties onto an MV-22B Osprey, flying to simulate going to a medical facility, and unloading the casualty in a timely manner.

"We were tasked to go out and practice [casualty evacuations] with the ground units," said Capt. Robert Swartz, the aviation safety officer for VMM-161. "We were practicing both radio communications and then loading and unloading a simulated casualty into the back of the aircraft."

To start off the exercise, the Marines began patrolling a dirt road until one Marine simulated a casualty. Once the Marine was down, the other Marines called in a casualty evacuation to air support, while providing a 360 degree defense around the casualty. Once the Osprey landed, the Marines would pick up the casualty and transport them to the aircraft while the others provided security.

"The purpose of the training is to increase the proficiency of the Marines during a casualty evacuation and also give them some familiarity talking to aircraft," said 2nd Lt. Oliver Stephanz, a platoon commander for 5th Battalion, 11th Marines.

Marines with VMM-161 conduct this training twice a year to ensure the Marines are prepared to do what they need to do during a real-life casualty evacuation situation, said Swartz.

"The purpose of this training is to give my Marines some hands on experience loading simulated casualties inside [an aircraft]," said Staff Sgt. Tyler Eastgate, a platoon sergeant for 5th Battalion, 11th Marines.

The Osprey's ability to land and take off in a confined area with vertical takeoff and landing makes it an amazing aircraft for casualty evacuation, said Swartz.

"Ultimately this training, regardless of [military occupational specialty], will play a vital role in evacuating injured Marines and getting Marines who are injured safely out of a combat zone," said Stephanz.

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