US Marine Corps, October 26, 2015 - by Lance Cpl. Aaron Fiala - Marines with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 167 conducted urban close air support training at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, October 19, 2015.
During the exercise, the warriors provided close air support to joint terminal air controllers for Marines with Expeditionary Warfare Training Group, Atlantic, who were conducting realistic air support training.
Marines on the ground relayed information regarding simulated enemy ground targets for the UH-1Y Venom to eliminate.
“The UH-1Y is a utility aircraft that is used for many purposes,” said Staff Sgt. James Hohenstein, a crew chief with the unit. “The aircraft is capable of providing close-air support as well as transporting heavy equipment and even combating fires.”
Hohenstein operated a GAU-21 .50 caliber machine gun mounted on the left of the craft and Lance Cpl. Jimmy Roberts, also a crew chief with the unit, operated a GAU-17 minigun mounted on the right.
After the crew received the target information they would make several passes until all members of the aircraft had visual contact of the target.
“It is important that the pilots and gunners are communicating while confirming the target,” said Hohenstein.
Once the target was identified the request for fire would come in from the joint terminal air controllers on the ground and the Venom would engage the target with machine gun fire, laser-guided rockets or both.
“Every training event is really important,” said Roberts. “There is never a flight that you don’t benefit from, even basic flight hours and proficiency in the weapon systems is crucial.”
The pilots made several assaults and suppressions before returning to Marine Corps Air Station New River where they refueled, resupplied their ammo and flew back out for another sortie.
“Being a part of a squadron like this is a great opportunity,” said Roberts. “There are a lot of jobs in the Marine Corps that you still have the opportunity to do outside of the Marine Corps, but I don’t think shooting a minigun out of a helicopter is one of them.”