MARINE CORPS AIR STATION KANEOHE BAY --
Marines with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 161 completed several flight missions around the island of Oahu, Hawaii, March 31 through April 4, 2014. Stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., VMM-161 was assigned to the USS Anchorage during its trip to Hawaii.
“The big reason we’re out here is to conduct cross training with (III Marine Expeditionary Force) in preparation for (2014 Rim of the Pacific Exercise),” said Capt. Patrick McCammond, the ground safety offi cer and an MV-22 Osprey copilot with VMM-161. “The terrain in Hawaii is different from what we’re used to, so becoming familiar with the specifi cs of the island will help prepare us for the upcoming exercise.”
On March 31, 2014, VMM-161 completed a demo practice in preparation for a display of their fl ight capabilities to those aboard the USS Anchorage, scheduled to take place, April 2. The unit flew two Ospreys from Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, on a designated fl ight path to Pearl Harbor to coordinate how they wanted to display their aircraft while flying over the ship.
After the demo practice, the Ospreys conducted different maneuvers around Oahu, often switching between its two different modes: helicopter and airplane. At the end of the day, VMM-161 returned to MCAS Kaneohe Bay to debrief and make final preparations for their showcase.
“Our main effort out here is getting back to ship-to-shore operations while working on and around the ship,” McCammond explained. “Since we’ve been out here, a lot of the pilots completed their carrier qualification, which allows them to take off from and land on the boat.”
On April 2, VMM-161 set up a static display of one of their Ospreys aboard the USS Anchorage while the other two departed MCAS Kaneohe Bay to showcase the aircraft’s abilities in the sky above the ship. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, was present aboard the USS Anchorage and briefly spoke to ship personnel.
Once they received the all clear, the two Ospreys flew over the ship. One of the Ospreys switched to helicopter mode and hovered directly over the ship while the second aircraft stayed in airplane mode as it circled back around.
People aboard the USS Anchorage had the opportunity to witness VMM-161 display both flight capabilities of their Ospreys for a brief period before both Ospreys resumed flying and left the area.
“Working alongside the USS Anchorage is going well with our day-to-day operations,” McCammond said. “They’ve been very accommodating to our needs and have worked hard to help us get the training we’re trying to achieve out here. We have an excellent relationship with the ship and crew, and we are very grateful of them.”
The unit practiced more maneuvers in the air before heading back to MCAS Kaneohe Bay to debrief. Before they traveled to Hawaii, VMM-161 had received a 72-hour warning order. Within that time, the unit successfully completed its necessary training to board the USS Anchorage and self-deployed three aircraft to make the trip.
“We’re out here to get in some good training in different areas, and doing that helps us maintain our readiness for RIMPAC,” said Pfc. Matthew Coats, a crew chief with VMM-161, and a 20-year-old native of San Antonio. “It’s important we don’t get complacent with ourselves as a unit, because it doesn’t matter where you’re training, you have to be prepared for anything.”