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Air Raid: 2/7 hits town from helos in Yuma

By Cpl. Pete Zrioka | | October 12, 2009

Marines of E Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, participated in a helicopter-borne raid on a mock Middle Eastern village at the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground on Oct. 12 in anticipation of their upcoming deployment with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.

The company, based out of Twentynine Palms, Calif., is making use of the helicopter training offered at the biannual Weapons and Tactics Instructor course here, as they will serve as the helicopter company in the MEU’s ground combat element.

Inserting in four different locations around the village via UH-1N Hueys, the company’s objective was to clear the houses and extract three role players targeted as high-value individuals.

Additional role players acted as insurgents, defending the village as the Marines moved from house to house, clearing rooms and courtyards.

“Overall, I think it went well,” said Capt. Zeb Philpott, company commander. “This was a large area for a squad-sized element to cover, but it was a success from a time management standpoint. We only had a half hour to work with.”

In addition to time constraints, the Marines were also required to perform a medical evacuation in the midst of their exercise. Because the evacuation left them with less personnel and one less Huey, and there was less room on the three remaining outbound helicopters.

Once the three targets were apprehended, the Marines made their way to extraction points and lifted off.

“It was good to get exposure to working with helicopters,” said Philpott, a former WTI tudent. “This experience will help when we deploy with the MEU in the planning phase. I’ll know how to better marry ground combat and aviation support to accomplish the mission.”

The 31st MEU based out of Okinawa, Japan, is scheduled to depart in early 2010 and is slated to participate in Exercise Cobra Gold in Thailand, as well as visit Singapore and the Philippines.

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