Photo Information

Captain Paul Blair, air officer for Battalion Landing Team 1st Bn., 2nd Marines, helps strengthen platoons by teaching them how to conduct casualty evacuations and landing zone briefs in the library aboard the USS Nassau, Dec. 2, 2005. The BLT is the ground combat element of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), which is currently deployed as the landing force for Expeditionary Strike Group 8.

Photo by Cpl. Christopher S. Vega

BLT 1/2 air officer teaches lifesaving radio skills

4 Dec 2005 | Cpl. Christopher S. Vega

During fast-paced military operations, the swift evacuation of combat wounded Marines and sailors can spell the difference between life and death.To ensure as many Marines in Battalion Landing Team 1st Bn., 2nd Marines as possible possess a basic knowledge of guiding helicopters into landing zones to evacuate their wounded comrades, Capt. Paul Blair taught several groups of Marines the fundamentals of coordinating casualty evacuations.“I’m not teaching these Marines how to be forward air controllers (FAC),” said Blair, a Dothan, Al. native and F/A-18 Hornet pilot serving as the air officer for BLT 1/2. “I’m just trying to teach these Marines how to call for air support in the event they don’t have a FAC with them.”Many of the students who learned these casualty evacuation (CASEVAC) procedures were from occupational specialties where the skill isn’t an everyday part of their job.“I think the classes are a great idea, especially with the possibility of us going ashore,” said Cpl. Jeremy McCormick, of Lacrosse, Wis., a motor transport mechanic with BLT 1/2’s artillery battery. “We need to know every man’s job when we go out, just in case they are injured and can’t do it.”Advanced medical care available in forward operational areas allows wounded Marines a greater chance for survival, and getting them onto helicopters and heading toward field hospitals is the first step in saving lives. During the class, the Marines learned everything from proper radio terminology and procedures to how to describe the situation and landing zone to inbound pilots.“It is not hard to call for air,” said Blair, who is currently deployed with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable). “The main problem Marines have is the terminology the pilots use, and staying calm. If they can get those two things down, they won’t have a problem.”According to Blair, the class is challenging so when the Marines are in a real life situation they will be prepared.“I’ve been a Harrier pilot and an infantry Marine, so I know how important it is to get the information out,” said Blair. “Everyone involved has to be on the same level, and has to share any information they have.”Blair only teaches the tools the Marines need to be successful. It is then up to unit leadership to rehearse and ensure all the Marines know the procedures.“I learned a lot from the class, but I know I’m going to need to practice the different steps in order to feel confident I can do it for real,” said McCormick. In addition to BLT 1/2, the 22nd MEU (SOC) consists of its Command Element, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 261 (Reinforced) and MEU Service Support Group 22. The MEU is currently deployed as the landing force for Expeditionary Strike Group 8. For more information on the 22nd MEU (SOC), visit the unit’s web site at
22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit