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A CH-53E Super Stallion with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 465 "Warhorses" dries in the sun after being washed aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., Aug. 20. The Warhorses deployed five aircraft to Colorado Springs during a deployment for training in order to break the squadron's Marines and pilots out of their comfort zones and normal flight patterns.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Christopher Johns

Warhorses beat hooves to Colorado Springs for mock deployment training

23 Aug 2013 | Lance Cpl. Christopher Johns

More than 150 Marines with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 465 “Warhorses” flew to Colorado Springs from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., during a deployment for training Aug. 21.

The mock deployment will last until Aug. 29, allowing Marines the chance to break out of their average routines and get them back to the basics of being a Marine - being deployable at any moment to any location.

“We are very used to flying from [MCAS Miramar] to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, or from here to El Centro, Calif., for training missions,” said Capt. Chris Churchill, the assault flight lead, under instruction, for the DFT with HMH-465 and a San Diego native. “Training in a different environment gives [ourselves and our Marines] a chance to broaden our horizons, and keeps us in a constant state of adaptation. We want to add a different dynamic to our training, and it can only help us be more prepared for an actual deployment.”

The squadron launched five CH-53E Super Stallions to ferry its Marines to grounds in Colorado Springs where their temporary base of operations for eight days awaited.

In order to prepare for this kind of training evolution, the squadron and its Marines needed to ensure the aircraft were fit to make the trip in time.

“It was a little nerve-racking at first to know we had to prepare five aircraft to deploy for this training on top of working on aircraft from another squadron, but it wasn’t impossible,” said Lance Cpl. Ivan Neto, a flight line mechanic with HMH-465 and a Rio de Janeiro, native. “We worked a lot of long hours, even throughout the weekend when we could be home with friends or families, to see this mission through. To know that we got the job done, and done right, so we could actually go is a really good feeling. All that hard work was worth it.”

As five aircraft full of Marines took to the skies, a Marine chosen to stay behind and help keep the rest of the squadron functioning felt a sense of pride watching her friends fly into the distance.

“You get to see all your hard work in action every time one of the aircraft you helped maintain and repair takes off,” said Lance Cpl. Amanda Martinez, a flight line mechanic with the Warhorses and a San Antonio, native. “I love what I do, and I have no doubt the Marines who went on this deployment for training know what they are doing. I trust these aircraft to take me anywhere, and if those Marines are the ones fixing these ‘53s, I would feel even safer.”

The Warhorses are planning biannual deployments for training which will include desert demonstrations and high-altitude, cold-weather exercises. For both those deployed and those who stayed behind, the experiences they gathered from this simulated combat deployment has better prepared them for missions to come.