US Marine Corps, August 22, 2014 - MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Arizona by Cpl James Marchetti - Marine Light Helicopter Attack Squadron 369 (HMLA-369), based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, located to Marine Corps Air Station Yuma from Aug. 17–22 in order to conduct training and take advantage of the station’s vast, detailed ranges.
Throughout their visit, HMLA 369 conducted numerous operations at the Yodaville Urban Target Complex, located approximately 20 miles Southeast of MCAS Yuma in the Barry M. Goldwater Range.
This massive complex, comprised of more than 100 simulated buildings, acquainted the squadron’s pilots and crew chief door gunners with moving target objectives, an entity that is unavailable to them while training aboard MCB Pendleton.
“Anytime you get exposed to different environments and factors on the job, you’re going to come out better than you were before,” said Cpl Eric Hamer, a crew chief for HMLA 369. “Coming out to Yuma and Yodaville – that’s one of the only times we get to train for urban close air support (CAS), and it’s important we get this kind of training.”
According to Hamer, this training benefited the crew chiefs by providing mentorship opportunities through their exposure to these intense and unfamiliar objectives.
“Most of gunners are relatively new, so it’s difficult for them to judge the different distances and profiles of targets on top of communicating with the pilots like they should,” said Hamer, a Murray, Iowa, native. “This (urban CAS) isn’t usually something they would receive training on until later on in their careers. … So for me, as their senior, to be there with them and let them know what needs to be done, and how they need to do it step by step – it makes us all the more combat ready.”
Overall, the squadron expelled thousands of rounds and racked up approximately 150 flight hours during their stint at MCAS Yuma, gleaning a deeper understanding of the aviation combat element, its capabilities and their specific mission in the process.