MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Rocks and sand whipped through the desert air of the combat center while “Vengeance” descended upon excercise Steel Knight during October.
Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469, Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary force, completed exercise Steel Knight Oct. 27 aboard the combat center.
Although HMLA-469 is one of the newest squadrons in the Marine Corps, that didn’t prevent the Marines from performing well, explained Lt. Col. Christopher Patton, the squadron commanding officer.
“We just stood up at the end of June, so we’re a relatively new squadron,” said Patton. “This was a good opportunity because this was our first training opportunity.”
The light attack squadron provided support as part of a Marine Air-Ground Task Force with the 1st Marine Division including close air support, surface escorts and simulated casualty evacuations.
“This training is more complicated than how we’ve been fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Maj. Bryant Budde, the squadron assistant maintenance officer. “All the pieces of the MAGTF are here working together.”
Though some members of the squadron, such as Budde, have deployed, many of the Marines have not, explained 1st Lt. Michael Quin, a squadron pilot.
“The terrain out here is much more realistic to what the guys are being deployed to in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Quin. “This is a scrimmage for us, you’re always practicing for deployment and this is practical application.”
During the training cycle, the Marines did exactly what was required of them, explained Patton.
“This exercise went great for our squadron, we supported the 1st MarDiv (I Marine Division), everything they asked for and then some,” said Patton. “The exercise helped us grow as a squadron because it was a good team building exercise and we were able to get the entire squadron to work in an expeditionary environment.”
The Marines left Steel Knight knowing they were capable of living up to their squadron name and providing “Vengeance” during the Global War on Terror.