A MARINE Heavy Helicopter Squadron 464 CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter sits outside Hangar 5 at Brunswick Landing, as seen recently. The squadron is finishing cold weather exercises in Maine.

A MARINE Heavy Helicopter Squadron 464 CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter sits outside Hangar 5 at Brunswick Landing, as seen recently. The squadron is finishing cold weather exercises in Maine.

BRUNSWICK

All that rumbling overhead in Brunswick for the past three weeks has been the sound of the Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 464 conducting cold weather training. The squadron had been operating out of Hangar 5 at the former Brunswick Naval Air Station.

 

 

By the end of the weekend, the squadron will have removed all of its equipment from Brunswick Landing and be home at Marine Corps Air Station New River in North Carolina.

According to Maj. Luke Frank, the executive officer for HMH-464, the squadron supports the Marine Air Ground Task Force by providing assault support transport of heavy equipment, combat troops, and supplies, day or night under all weather conditions.

“While in Maine we conducted terrain flight maneuvers, confined area landings, long-range tactical exercises, and support to the USMC Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape school as well as Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment,” Frank said.

Previous detachments had done training in Brunswick when the Navy base was still active prior to 2008, he said. HMH-464 sought out Brunswick Landing management to see if they would be able to host the unit for this training event.

Steve Levesque, Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority executive director, said it’s been an honor to support the squadron.

Frank said HMH-464 last conducted cold weather training in February and March 2016 in Norway. The Marine Corps has numerous training venues for desert and mountain training. However, opportunities to train in the cold weather environment are limited.

“The Marine Corps prides itself on being ready to fight in any clime and place, so training in more austere environments only enhances our unit readiness,” said 2nd Lt. Sam Stephenson, Public Affairs Officer for 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.

There was a detachment of Marines from HMH-464 and Marine Wing Support Squadron 274 training out of Brunswick Landing. The number of Marines as well as aircraft fluctuated as they rotated in and out, Stephenson said.

The massive choppers that have been spotted in the Brunswick area are CH-53E Super Stallions. Frank said this is the largest helicopter in the U.S. military arsenal, often referred to as the largest helicopter in the Free World.

According to marines.com, the heavy-lift helicopter of the Marine Corps can carry a 26,000- pound light armored vehicle, 16 tons of cargo 50 miles and back, or enough combat-loaded Marines to lead an assault or humanitarian operation.

“But perhaps what’s most amazing about the largest military helicopter in the U.S. is what it achieves despite its size,” the site states. “Though powerful enough to lift every aircraft in the Marine inventory except the KC-130, the CH- 53E Super Stallion is compact enough to deploy on amphibious assault ships, and has the armament, speed and agility to qualify as much more than a heavy lifter.”

While the HMH-464 can fly in snow, certain weather conditions like freezing rain can preclude flying. When that happens, Frank said the Marines receive instruction from the Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape school instructors on cold weather survival.

Being in a Marine Corps aviation squadron is one of the most unique and rewarding jobs there is, Frank said. Many of its pilots, aircrew and maintainers have done several deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Okinawa, Japan, and on Marine Expeditionary Units. The squadron also has the opportunity to train all over the U.S. and with foreign allies, making this a very exciting unit to be a part of.

“Not only was Brunswick Landing a fantastic base of operations but the local area was great as well,” Frank said. “Many of our Marines took part in the unique experiences Maine has to offer, some went skiing, others explored the Portland, Brunswick and Bath areas for local restaurants and entertainment.”

According to MRRA’s website, Brunswick Landing’s Hangar 5 boasts more than 163,000 square feet of space with two aircraft bays. Built in 1982, the space is available for redevelopment and is suited for manufacturing, maintenance and repair.

“Brunswick Landing has proven to be a welcoming and advantageous base for HMH-464 during this training evolution,” Frank said. “If given the opportunity by the local community, HMH- 464 and our sister squadrons would like to replicate this training event in the future.”

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