MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. --
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. (Dec. 11, 2017) – Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 465 arrived at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Yuma, Ariz., Nov. 29, 2017, to conduct training in support of Exercise Winter Fury.
HMH-465 is a United States Marine Corps helicopter squadron based out of Miramar, California, that consists of CH-53E Super Stallion transport helicopters.
The CH-53E Super Stallion has been in service since the 1970’s and is the largest and heaviest helicopter in the United States military. The helicopter can carry a maximum capacity of 55 troops and lift up to 32,000 pounds.
Pilots, mechanics, and crew members were sent to MCAS Yuma as part of a Deployment for Training, which provides them the opportunity to obtain training flight hours and the certifications they need to become qualified flyers.
“We’re out here to support the ground troops,” U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Gregory Polina said. “We’re going to be moving different types of vehicles with our aircraft, as well as inserting ground troops into different locations.”
Polina, a Columbus, Ohio, native and aerial observer assigned to HMH-465, ensures safety and that the Marines conduct maintenance correctly on the helicopters.
This Deployment for Training isn’t the only time that Marines from other locations have been sent to MCAS Yuma however. Marines from all around the Corps, on a global scale, are sent to MCAS Yuma twice a year to attend the Weapons and Tactics Instructors (WTI) Course, which teaches Marines the latest in aviation, ground, and support tactics.
U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Deforrest Key, a Nobel, Oklahoma, native and quality assurance representative assigned to HMH-465, was one Marine that was experiencing MCAS Yuma outside of participating in a previous WTI course.
“There are a lot of good reasons why we’d want to come to Yuma as opposed to 29 palms or Creech Air Force Base,” Key said. “Here we have support from Marine units, like MALS-13 and MAWTS-1, whereas on Creech we don’t have the same types of assets. And here in Yuma, we have everything we need. Plus, we’re closer to Miramar, so if we do need stuff it’s only a few hours away.”
Due to the aerial gunnery ranges that surround it, like the Barry M. Goldwater Complex and Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range, MCAS Yuma is a prime location for aerial training to take place. The station is home to multiple squadrons from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.
U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Matthew Recker, a Fallbrook, California, native and the pilot training officer for HMH-465, has participated in past Winter Fury exercises as well as Summer Fury exercises, which take place during the warmer months.
“There’s a reason we brought most of our squadron here,” Recker said. “We came here because we knew the weather would be nice, we have good access to ranges, and the training areas here are great.”