MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER, TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER, TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. – Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 465 “Warhorses” used their heavy lifting capabilities to support Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 5, Combat Logistics Regiment 1 participating in the Steel Knight exercise aboard Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif., Dec. 14.
The Steel Knight exercise prepares Marines for deployment by responding to combat-related crisis. The training lasts three weeks and consists of counter insurgency operations and amphibious assaults.
Although the weather almost kept the Warhorses down, they proved that rainy conditions could not hinder their ability to accomplish the heavy lifts.
“We kept pushing, and it was hard, but we found a way to get out there,” said Capt Steven Bickham, the flight equipment and ordnance officer in charge and a Baton Rouge, La., native.
The flight crew worked together to repeatedly lift vehicles and many supplies from uneven terrain in the hills of Twentynine Palms. This type of flight operation is commonly referred to as externals.
External flights help move many supplies or heavy vehicles to places where other vehicles cannot reach because of terrain or how much needs to be transported.
“The capability of the [CH-53E Super Stallion] stands alone,” said Bickham. “We are the heavy lift capability of the Marine Corps.”
With no roads leading out of the hills, only externals could transport all the equipment quickly and safely back to Camp Wilson aboard MCAGCC Twentynine Palms.
For the helicopter support team and HMH-465 Marines, this training helped them practice rigging up a load in a hostile environment, added Capt Madeline Dougherty, a future operations officer and a Winchester bay, Ore., native.
Even with uncontrollable factors like weather, the Warhorses accomplished all necessary elements for mission completion.
“Overall it was a huge success,” said Bickham.
The Warhorses continue to train to stay mission ready through rain or shine.