MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Armed with a 25mm Bushmaster chain-gun, two 240-G machine guns and four scouts in its hull, the eight wheeled, 14-ton, camouflaged “beast of steel” rolls through the rugged, uneven terrain leaving a trail of dust in its wake.
"The most important thing about the Light Armored Vehicle is not the firepower it bears, but the Marines manning the weapons," said Sgt. Tony Gutierrez, a machine-gunner with the Light Armored Reconnaissance platoon.
The Marines with LAR, an attachment to Weapons Company, Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, recently participated in a Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel course held aboard Camp Lejeune in preparation for their upcoming deployment with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit later this year.
The primary purpose of the five-day course was to give the 22nd MEU the capability to quickly recover downed aircrew and aircraft under a wide spectrum of threats.
“The LAR is not limited to just TRAP missions,” explained Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran Sgt. Clarence Hopkins, the chief scout for the LAR platoon. “We are capable of executing a number of tasks and missions.”
The first two days of the course were spent in the classroom covering mission planning and execution, as well as pilot recovery and medical treatment.
After the class portion of the exercise, the next three days and nights saw the LAR Marines executing mock TRAP missions over various terrain with life-size dummies as downed pilots and role players as enemy combatants.
Once the Marines received the approximate coordinates where the pilot was believed to be, his medical status, and the suspected enemy situation in the vicinity, they had a short time to come up with a feasible plan of attack.
The platoon, consisting of four LAV’s and one unarmed recovery vehicle, or “Log,” then formed into teams and searched for the pilots while they coordinated with helicopters overhead.
Once the pilots were found and given medical attention, the Marines transported them to a designated area suitable for a helicopter extract.
“This is good training for the young Marines, they all did a great job today,” said Hopkins, who has been in two real-life TRAP missions. “They did all the work; all I had to do was give the commands.”
The Marines from LAR along with BLT 3/8 will join the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Command Element, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 261 (Reinforced), and Combat Logistics Battalion 22 in a deployment scheduled for later this year. For more information about the 22nd MEU, visit the unit website at: http://www.22meu.usmc.mil.