Unit HomeNewsNews Article Display
15th Marine Expeditionary Unit


15th Marine Expeditionary Unit

America's Vanguard Force

Camp Pendleton, CA
Marines, sailors work together to keep pilots in air

By Lance Cpl. Timothy Childers | | June 3, 2012

AV-8B Harriers shook the USS Peleliu as part of the daily flight operations during the PHIBRON Three and 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s PHIBRON-MEU Interoperability Training off the coast of Southern Calif., June 1.

The exercise gives Marines and sailors the opportunity to become familiar working together as a blue-green team. The cohesion is a must when it comes to flight deck operations.

 The pilots of the Marine aircraft, including UH-1Y Hueys, CH-46E Sea Knights, CH-53E Super Stallions, AH-1Z Cobras, and AV-8B Harrier Jets, need the support of Marines and sailors on the flight deck to make their missions possible.

“The Marines on the flight deck work with the Navy when it comes to spotting the aircraft, guiding, refueling, safety checks and making sure the right aircraft are at the right spots at the right time,” said Capt. Mitchell Vanderkodde, AH-1Z Cobra pilot, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 364, 15th MEU. “It comes down to what the Marines and sailors are used to. We can take both of their experiences and mold them together into a cohesive team.”

According to Vanderkodde, the servicemembers on the flight deck work long hours in order for operations to be possible. “The Marine pilots tell you what they need and we get it done,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Benjamin D. Moran, aviation boatswain’s mate, USS Peleliu. “The Marines need us as much as we need the Marines, without the fuel they can’t take off and that’s our mission.”

 This is the first at-sea exercise for the 15th MEU as a complete Marine Air-Ground Task Force and the first time many of the Marines have worked with their Navy counterparts.

 “It’s 100% important for us to work together,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Antonio Olmos, aviation boatswain’s mate, USS Peleliu. “We have to have the best relationship with the Marines on the flight deck. The combination is the grease that keeps the machine running.”

The Marines and sailors have said their blue-green team has been running smoothly on the deck, and they are getting used to working with each other as the exercise continues.

“We’re really compatible when working with Marines,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Daniel Arbogast, aviation fuel boatswain’s mate, USS Peleliu. “We have to get familiar with each other to accomplish the mission.”