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Marines with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 161 completed a two-week deployment for training (DFT) exercise based out of Creech Air Force Base, Nev., Dec. 1 to 14. The “Greyhawks” conducted the DFT in preparation for their deployment with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit next year. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Kimberlyn Adams/Released)

Photo by Cpl. Kimberlyn Adams

VMM-161 soars toward the 15th MEU

19 Dec 2016 | Cpl. Kimberlyn Adams 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing

Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 161 conducted a deployment for training (DFT) exercise based out of Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, Dec. 1 to 14.

The “Greyhawks” conducted the DFT in preparation for their deployment with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) next year where they will serve as part of the aviation combat element.

A MEU is one of the components of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force. A MEU is made up of four elements: ground combat, aviation combat, logistics combat and command.

“The purpose of the DFT was for us to have our sections work together as a whole so we can prepare ourselves for the upcoming MEU,” said Sgt. Maj. Ronda Porter, sergeant major of VMM-161.

During the two-week exercise, the Marines successfully completed several simulated missions, such as mass casualty, noncombatant evacuation operations, humanitarian assistance disaster relief, and tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel.

“The DFT provided the whole squadron with great training,” said Capt. John Nance, an MV-22B Osprey pilot with VMM-161. “We got a lot of training in for the new pilots and refreshed some of the senior pilots. Logistics made sure we had hotels and vans and intelligence. Marines got practice working with the pilots, knowing what we need and helping us know what to expect.”

The exercise also exceeded the qualification expectations for the maintainers, added Master Gunnery Sgt. John Proctor, maintenance control chief with VMM-161.

“I think the DFT definitely helped out with the morale of the unit because the Marines had a chance to work so closely together versus when we are [at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar],” said Porter. “The Marines are used to working with the Marines in their sections and this training forced them to work together as a whole unit.”

The squadron is scheduled to composite to the 15th MEU in January and will continue its pre-deployment training until they go underway in the summer.

“I feel more than confident that my unit will be able to successfully deploy with the 15th MEU,” said Porter.

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