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14 Jul 2001 | GySgt. Mike Dougherty 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Members of 24th MEU's reconnaissance detachment pulled critical supplies from thin air during Albanian Phiblex this deployment.  

GySgt. Paul Moose, Force Recon detachment operations chief, arranged for an aerial resupply of water and MRE's for a platoon hunkered down in the rocky slopes of Albania.   Such resupply efforts are common in much smaller packages, but this was no small effort, said Moose.  "We'll normally drop supplies down to a team, but this time we dropped a palette down to a whole platoon," he said. 

The palette weighed more than 330 pounds and occupied the entire ramp of the CH-53 Sea Stallion from HMM-266 (Rein).  Supplies could not be trucked in to the platoon's position some 100 miles inland - not because of the moon-like landscape, but due to the fact that the entire operation was conducted using air transportation only.  Ship-to-shore surface transport was impossible due to navigational constraints.

Fortunately for the recon Marines on both ends of the transaction, conditions couldn't have been more favorable for the night drop.  With a full moon and 100 percent night visibility, Moose had no problem spotting the platoon's beacon - even as the helo strafed overhead at 90 knots at 250 feet up.  The only real concern, explained Moose, was the condition of the package upon landing.  The chute opened swiftly and the palette landed intact within 100 feet of the platoon's position, he said.  The success of this operation extended the legs of the recon element for future operations.