Photo Information

Marines with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit fly to their objective in an MV-22B Osprey with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 163 (Reinforced) on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., May 17. Marines with VMM-163 (Rein) supplied four MV-22B Ospreys, two AH-1W Cobras, two UH-1Y Hueys and one CH-53E Super Stallion to support a simulated raid. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Harley Robinson/Released)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Harley Robinson

VMM-163 (Rein) prepares for deployment with 11th MEU

27 May 2016 | Lance Cpl. Harley Robinson 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Marines with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 163 (Reinforced), 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, its ground combat element, Battalion Landing Team, 1st Bn., 4th Marines, during a simulated raid on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, May 17.

As the aviation element, VMM-163 (Rein) provided transportation for the ground Marines with MV-22B Ospreys and a CH-53E Super Stallion and provided oversight of the objective with AH-1W Cobras.

“We were there supporting Marines training with the [Expeditionary Operation Training Group] and supporting their movement and actions on the objective,” said Capt. Daniel Gearhart, an Osprey pilot with VMM-163 (Rein). “What that means for us specifically with aviation is moving Marines to where they need to go. We moved roughly 115 passengers, and four simulated [casualty evacuations].”

From 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, VMM-163 (Rein) supplied four MV-22B Ospreys, two AH-1W Cobras, two UH-1Y Hueys and one CH-53E Super Stallion to support the training. When squadrons deploy as a MEU, they consolidate under the command of a single squadron commander.

“The Osprey’s main purpose is to bring the [ground Marines] into the objective area,” said 1st Lt. Jonathan Moss, a Cobra pilot with VMM-163 (Rein). “The purpose of the attack section is to provide close air support in the area and making sure it’s safe.”

Marines with VMM-163 (Rein) utilized Ospreys and a Super Stallion to move ground Marines to their objective point. Marines in the Cobras offered an overwatch of the objective and provided communication between units on the ground and in the air. The Cobras then remained closeby to provide any fire support needed.

“Our job is to mitigate threats before the Marines go in,” said Moss. “Check the zones and make sure they are clear of any threats.”

Once the ground units accomplished their mission, the Ospreys and Super Stallion extracted the Marines.

“It’s a learning experience,” said Gearhart. “The ground Marines learn what they need from us and we learn how to better support them. With the capabilities of the different aircraft, we were able to move these Marines quickly so they could hit objective areas harder and faster than they could on the ground.”

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Colonel Jim W. Lively
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Colonel Lively is a native of Dallas, Texas. He received his commission in 1996 through the Platoon Leaders Course program after graduating from Texas A&M University with a BA in Psychology.

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Lieutenant Col. Le E. Nolan
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Lieutenant Colonel Nolan is a 2001 graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology and received his commission through Officer Candidate Class 180. After completing flight training as a CH-53E pilot, he reported to HMH-361 in MCAS Miramar.

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11th Marine Expeditionary Unit