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Yodaville provides realistic urban close air support to HMLA-369

By Cpl. Tyler Marchetti | Marine Corps Air Station Yuma | August 25, 2014

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Lance Cpl. Christopher Eliff, a crew chief with Marine Light Helicopter Squadron 369, based at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., and a Houston native, awaits a flight aboard the flight line of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014. HMLA-369 relocated to MCAS Yuma from Aug. 17-22, expending thousands of rounds of ammunition and flying approximately 150 hours during their visit to provide their Marines with intense training.

Lance Cpl. Christopher Eliff, a crew chief with Marine Light Helicopter Squadron 369, based at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., and a Houston native, awaits a flight aboard the flight line of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014. HMLA-369 relocated to MCAS Yuma from Aug. 17-22, expending thousands of rounds of ammunition and flying approximately 150 hours during their visit to provide their Marines with intense training. (Photo by Cpl. James Marchetti)


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Lance Cpl. Christopher Eliff, a crew chief with Marine Light Helicopter Squadron 369, based at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., and a Houston native, fires a GAU-11 Minigun during a moving target exercise at the Yodaville Urban Target Complex, located in the Barry M. Goldwater Range, Ariz., Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014. The crew chiefs expended more than 6,000 rounds during the exercise, building proficiency in their gunnery skillsets.

Lance Cpl. Christopher Eliff, a crew chief with Marine Light Helicopter Squadron 369, based at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., and a Houston native, fires a GAU-11 Minigun during a moving target exercise at the Yodaville Urban Target Complex, located in the Barry M. Goldwater Range, Ariz., Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014. The crew chiefs expended more than 6,000 rounds during the exercise, building proficiency in their gunnery skillsets. (Photo by Cpl. James Marchetti)


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Lance Cpl. Christopher Eliff, a crew chief with Marine Light Helicopter Squadron 369, based at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., and a Houston native, mounts a GAU-11 Minigun during a moving target exercise at the Yodaville Urban Target Complex, located in the Barry M. Goldwater Range, Ariz., Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014. The crew chiefs expended more than 6,000 rounds during the exercise, building proficiency in their gunnery skillsets.

Lance Cpl. Christopher Eliff, a crew chief with Marine Light Helicopter Squadron 369, based at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., and a Houston native, mounts a GAU-11 Minigun during a moving target exercise at the Yodaville Urban Target Complex, located in the Barry M. Goldwater Range, Ariz., Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014. The crew chiefs expended more than 6,000 rounds during the exercise, building proficiency in their gunnery skillsets. (Photo by Cpl. James Marchetti)


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Lance Cpl. Austin Shephard, a crew chief with Marine Light Helicopter Squadron 369, based at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., and an Anacoco, La., native, looks out the open door of a UH-1Y Venom helicopter as it rises above the flight line of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014. The helicopter was heading toward the Yodaville Urban Target Complex, located in the Barry M. Goldwater Range, Ariz., to conduct a moving target exercise.

Lance Cpl. Austin Shephard, a crew chief with Marine Light Helicopter Squadron 369, based at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., and an Anacoco, La., native, looks out the open door of a UH-1Y Venom helicopter as it rises above the flight line of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014. The helicopter was heading toward the Yodaville Urban Target Complex, located in the Barry M. Goldwater Range, Ariz., to conduct a moving target exercise. (Photo by Cpl. James Marchetti)


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MARINE CORPS AIR STATION, Arizona -- Marine Light Helicopter Attack Squadron 369 (HMLA-369), based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, located to Marine Corps Air Station Yuma from Aug. 17–22 in order to conduct training and take advantage of the station’s vast, detailed ranges.

Throughout their visit, HMLA 369 conducted numerous operations at the Yodaville Urban Target Complex, located approximately 20 miles Southeast of MCAS Yuma in the Barry M. Goldwater Range. 

This massive complex, comprised of more than 100 simulated buildings, acquainted the squadron’s pilots and crew chief door gunners with moving target objectives, an entity that is unavailable to them while training aboard MCB Pendleton.

“Anytime you get exposed to different environments and factors on the job, you’re going to come out better than you were before,” said Cpl Eric Hamer, a crew chief for HMLA 369. “Coming out to Yuma and Yodaville – that’s one of the only times we get to train for urban close air support (CAS), and it’s important we get this kind of training.”

According to Hamer, this training benefited the crew chiefs by providing mentorship opportunities through their exposure to these intense and unfamiliar objectives.

“Most of gunners are relatively new, so it’s difficult for them to judge the different distances and profiles of targets on top of communicating with the pilots like they should,” said Hamer, a Murray, Iowa, native. “This (urban CAS) isn’t usually something they would receive training on until later on in their careers. … So for me, as their senior, to be there with them and let them know what needs to be done, and how they need to do it step by step – it makes us all the more combat ready.”

Overall, the squadron expelled thousands of rounds and racked up approximately 150 flight hours during their stint at MCAS Yuma, gleaning a deeper understanding of the aviation combat element, its capabilities and their specific mission in the process.


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