Marine Corps WTI 2-19 Exercise in Kiwanis Park, Yuma AZ

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On April 19th, the United States Marine Corps descended upon Kiwanis Park in Yuma, Arizona, in their CH-53E Super Stallions and UH-1Y Venoms in a simulated humanitarian assistance mission. The park offers a large enough field to land multiple helicopters at the same time in an urban area, as well as additional space to conduct other key aspects of this scenario.

The overall purpose of the exercise was to give the Marines realistic training of providing foreign humanitarian assistance (FHA) to another nation while conducting noncombatant evacuation operations (NEO) in an urban environment. Several different scenarios played out throughout the evening including medical care, food and water distribution, security, resupply, and extraction. This event, Assault Support Tactics 3, (AST 3) was just one part of the 7-week Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course (WTI) 2-19 conducted by Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1).

The mission involved close to 250 Marines, with some role playing as foreign villagers. While the CH-53s brought in supplies and aid, UH-1s dipped in to pick up injured personnel to transport them to nearby hospitals. At times the crowd grew irritated, shouted for water and food, and every so often even became hostile. The Marines quickly responded and detained multiple aggressive ‘villagers’ after a several scuffles. The massive CH-53s continued to bring in aid well into the night. Just before the conclusion of the evening’s training, a simulated mass casualty event took place.

Several of the villagers had been wounded and were treated by medical personnel on site. Two CH-53s appeared out of the darkness and touched down to pick up all the wounded personnel. Once all patients were aboard and secured, the majority of the remaining Marines on site filled the remaining seats in the Super Stallion and were extracted from the area. After final flight checks were complete, the two mighty CH-53s leaped into the night sky and returned to base having successfully completed their mission objectives.

Stay tuned for more in depth coverage from WTI 1-20 as we look deeper into other scenarios within the course that support Marine aviation training and readiness and give the United States Marine Corps their lethal edge.

I’d like to give a special thank you to 1st Lieutenant Story and her entire team from MAWTS-1 CommStrat for their exceptional hospitality.

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Steve Lewis

Steve is a Southern California based photographer living in the Los Angeles area.

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