11th MEU TRAP team brings downed pilots home

17 Apr 2004 | 11th MEU PA Staff 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Air Force Captain Scott O'Grady became a household name when he evaded capture by Bosnian Serb forces for six harrying days after his F-16 Falcon jet was shot down.  United States Marines were the ones to go in and rescue him.

Most people don't know what it takes to accomplish such a mission, called Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel, or TRAP.  However, a platoon of Marines from 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit does.

Marines from 3rd Platoon, Company C, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 11th MEU, participated in a TRAP exercise at San Clemente Island, Calif., April 17.

The TRAP mission was successfully completed during the 11th MEU's second at-sea period called Composite Unit Training Exercise, or COMPTUEX, and is one of 23 missions the MEU trains for to earn the designation "Special Operations Capable."

In this scenario, 3rd Platoon boarded two CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters and went to rescue two American pilots who ejected from their aircraft over enemy territory due to mechanical problems.  Third Platoon's mission was to rescue and bring them safely back to the USS Belleau Wood.

Marine Corps News

Colonel Thomas M. Siverts
Commanding Officer

Colonel Tom Siverts is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in August 1989. He achieved a commission as a Second Lieutenant through the Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program following his graduation from the University of Virginia in May 1999. Colonel Siverts has deployed in support of Operations DESERT SHIELD, DESERT STORM, IRAQI FREEDOM, and ENDURING FREEDOM. His other operational deployments include serving with Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 2/8, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU); BLT 3/8, 22d MEU; BLT 2/8, 26th MEU, and Task Force 61/2.

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Lieutenant Col. Steven M. Sprigg
Executive Officer

LtCol Sprigg was born in Parkersburg, WV. LtCol Sprigg enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in September 2004 and recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, SC. LtCol Sprigg was selected for the Enlisted Commissioning Program and commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in March 2008. He was designated a Naval Aviator in February 2011 and reported to HMLAT-303 for training as an AH-1W pilot. LtCol Sprigg is currently serving as the Executive Officer for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit in Camp Pendleton, California.

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Sergeant Major Travis L. DeBarr
Sergeant Major

Sergeant Major DeBarr enlisted in the Marine Corps and reported to MCRD San Diego, CA, for recruit training in October 1994.Staff Sergeant DeBarr completed two combat tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from September 2005 to April 2006 and again form March 2007 to September 2007. While serving with 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines, First Sergeant DeBarr completed one combat deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, from October 2012 to May 2013. Sergeant Major DeBarr currently serves as the Sergeant Major for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

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11th Marine Expeditionary Unit