HARAMURA, Hiroshima Pref., Japan -- Marines with Marine Wing Support Squadron 171 conclude exercise Thunder Horse 16.2 May 14, 2016, following a week-long exercise at the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force’s Haramura Maneuver Area in Hiroshima, Japan.
The week-long exercise focused on reinforcing skills that Marines learned throughout their military occupational specialty schooling and during Marine Combat Training in order to maintain situational readiness.
Field radio operators, combat engineers, water purification specialists, heavy equipment operators, bulk fuel specialists, motor transportation operators, and aircraft rescue and firefighters worked together to accomplish the mission.
“This was a great opportunity for the squadron to come together,” said Sgt. Javaze McDonald, aircraft rescue and firefighting specialist and crew leader with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron. “This shows why every military occupational specialty is important to get the job done. I had to branch out and learn how to talk to the motor transportation and heavy equipment operators as well as properly communicate on the radio. This exercise allows us to experience, understand and put all the pieces together in order to operate smoothly.”
Heavy equipment operators and combat engineers dug fighting holes for defensive positions, provided mechanical and road clearance with a bulldozer, conducted vehicle recovery, participated in security patrols and established a forward operating base.
“The combat engineer platoon conducted various engineering missions including engineer reconnaissance, route sweeps, survivability missions and placing overhead cover for machine gun positions,” said Staff Sgt. Alfred Negron, platoon sergeant with MWSS-171, engineer company, combat engineer platoon. “The heavy equipment operators practiced earth-moving operations utilizing the medium crawler tractor bulldozer, 120M motor grater, tractor rubber tired articulated steering multipurpose vehicle and a 7.5-ton air mobile crane.”
Motor transportation operators, bulk fuels specialists and field radio operators trained in various areas including direct refueling, recovery and general engineering operations, established a tactical motor pool and participated in a hike.
“We accomplished a lot of our annual training such as how to conduct a convoy, night patrols and conducted classes on how to camouflage our equipment as well as machine-gun courses,” said Staff Sgt. Dalton Revier, a motor transportation second section head with MWSS-171.
Aircraft rescue and firefighting Marines from Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron came along for the field operation to conduct aircraft salvage and recovery drills, and basic training techniques learned throughout Marine Combat Training.
“We went over patrols, provided security and made terrain models that were ultimately used in the aircraft salvage and recovery,” said McDonald. “We went over the little details that make everything work seamlessly.”
Revier said based off of their first day of the exercise, he saw improvement in the Marines within a few days.
“The first few days, each unit has their own specific training for themselves,” said Revier. “The squadron as a whole saw huge improvement and will benefit greatly. The Marines’ newfound knowledge will be useful just in case we are deployed, whether it’s humanitarian or combat related. They now have the confidence to go and do what needs to be done.”
Revier said he believes the exercise went very well because within a week, the Marines built morale, accomplished a lot of training and the noncommissioned officers provided their knowledge and mentored their junior Marines.
By conducting training such as this with realistic environments and circumstances, the Marines maintain high levels of readiness for whatever mission they may be tasked with.