FORT A.P. HILL, Va. -- In an effort to hone their basic skills as the designated helicopter company for the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Marines from Alpha Company, Battalion Landing Team, 1st Bn., 2nd Marines, conducted helicopter interoperability training with helicopters from the MEU's aviation arm, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 263, at Fort A.P. Hill, Va., March 13.
During the exercise the Marines practiced moving from landing zone to landing zone using the proper techniques of boarding and exiting the aircraft. They also worked on some basic infantry skills such as patrolling, continuing actions and accountability.
"This was the first step in getting all of the pieces together," said Capt. Billy Ray Moore, Alpha Co. commander and Newcastle, Ind., native. "We worked on basic (landing zone) and (accountability) procedures."
For Alpha Co., this was a chance to develop standard operating procedures and refine procedures already in place.
The Marines grouped into their different sticks, or helicopter assignments, and prepared to move from their covered position in the tree line after all the men and their gear were accounted for.
Once the helicopters, including one CH-53E Super Stallion and two CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters, touched ground, each stick was given the order to go.
The Marines then rushed from their covered positions to their designated helicopter and were taken to a different landing zone.
After the helicopters touched down with the Marines on board, they rushed from the aircraft to the tree line and set up a 360-degree security perimeter. They then repeated the procedure a second time moving back to the landing zone they started from.
"We made a lot of good progress with our landing zone procedures," said Moore. "But, we still have a lot of work to do in order to bring all the pieces of this raid force together, and time is short."
After they completed the second round of landing zone training, the Marines picked up their packs and tactically moved a few kilometers to another position, where they set up security and made preparations to conduct patrols.
At first light, terrain models were created on the ground and platoon sergeants were briefing their Marines on patrol routes.
A few moments later, they established their presence in the area by conducting security patrols.
"We definitely learned a lot out here," said 2nd Lt. Brent Jones, 1st Platoon commander and Jacksonville, N.C., native. "We have a young platoon, but our (noncommissioned officers) are sharp."
Following their patrols, Alpha Co., moved back to the landing zone for some more helicopter and basic infantry training that will help prepare them for any mission they may face on their upcoming deployment with the 24th MEU.