JAHAZI, Afghanistan --
Two CH-53D Sea Stallions from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 362, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), landed here early in the morning Oct.17 with approximately 30 Afghan National Army troops and Marines from Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, on board for Operation Stargey.
As part of the operation, HMH-362, the “Ugly Angels,” transported the Marines to Jahazi, a village between Now Zad and Musa Quelah, to set up snap vehicle check points in an effort to disrupt insurgent operations in the area.
The mission was to support the Afghan National Army and coalition forces near Jahazi and stop insurgents from illegally taxing merchants on their way to bazaars in the area, explained Staff Sgt. John McFarling, a platoon sergeant for Charlie Company.
Using helicopters to insert ANA and coalition forces allows for surprise, flexibility and a multi-prong approach to the operation, explained Capt. Kelly Attwood, a Sea Stallion pilot with the Ugly Angels.
As the helicopters landed, other coalition forces were arriving via convoy heading south on the area’s main road. This convoy set up vehicle check points before the helicopter insert took place, so if insurgents attempted to egress they would potentially run into one of those check points, where they would be stopped and searched, added Attwood.
Once on the ground, Charlie Company Marines and ANA forces met little resistance.
“The day went well,” said McFarling. “We were in a small fire fight, but the insurgents fled, so it was successful.”
McFarling added, working with the squadron was great and he couldn’t wait to be a part of another mission like this one again.
Later that evening, HMH-362 landed as scheduled to pick up the ANA and Marines from their day’s work.
“The day went as planned, but you can’t always plan for what the enemy will do, only assume,” said Attwood. “We’re always here to support the infantry in whatever they need.”
With HMH-362’s airborne ability, ANA and International Security Assistance Forces are able to provide support to the local population and move throughout the region quickly.
Operation Stargey is one of many operations conducted by ANA and coalition forces to protect the local population from insurgents.