Photo Information

Aaron Gregoroff, lead Modular Amphibious Egress Trainer course instructor, describes a slide during a presentation to Marines with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit and Combat Logistics Battalion 11 as it pertains to the two-day course here Jan. 6. The course provides military personnel with the skills necessary to coordinate an egress from a sinking helicopter and survive at sea until rescued.

Photo by Cpl. Elyssa Quesada

Helo dunk: Marines learn to survive

7 Jan 2011 | Cpl. Elyssa Quesada 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Marines with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit learned how to escape a sinking aircraft during a Modular Amphibious Egress Trainer course here Jan. 6 and 7.

The two-day course provides military personnel with the skills necessary to egress a sinking helicopter and survive at sea until rescued, according to Aaron Gregoroff, lead MAET instructor.

On Dec. 9, 1999, a CH-46 Sea Knight with the 15th MEU crashed during a training exercise. The helicopter became entangled in the safety netting around the ship, and fell into the water claiming the lives of six Marines and one sailor.

“The seven that were lost that day is why this training is here,” said Michael “Scott” Archer, a survivor of the 1999 training accident.

During the classroom portion of the course, students learned how to properly exit a sinking CH-46 or CH-53 Super Stallion aircraft and how to use the Intermediate Passenger Helicopter Aircrew Breathing Device, which is similar to a small scuba tank that provides up to two minutes of compressed air.

“The training is designed for deploying units and any Marine who will find themselves flying over a body of water,” said John Schulte, the site manager.

After classes, the students hit the pool to apply their training. In the water, the students performed different exit techniques inside the egress trainer, or helo dunker.

“The first day in the water was awesome,” said Sgt. Ako A. Singletary, 33, a switchboard operator with the unit. “After a few dunks, you believe in the gear and the techniques, then it all becomes muscle memory.”

The dunker is lowered into the pool and turned upside down to imitate a submerged helicopter following a crash. 

“The instructors made everything quite simple,” said Singletary, from Miami, Fla. “I feel prepared. After attending this training, I am confident I would be able to get myself out of a submerged helicopter and possibly help out other Marines.”

The MEU Marines attended the course as part of their annual training in preparation for their upcoming deployment.

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.

Read Biography

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.

Read Biography

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.

Read Biography