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Photo by Cpl. Rocco DeFilippis

On the wings of the Warhorse; Lima 3/2 swoops in

26 Mar 2005 | Cpl. Rocco DeFilippis

A wall of dust erupts from the desert as a CH-53E Super Stallion touches down, and Marines quickly jump out and set up a defensive perimeter.While attack helicopters, commonly referred to as 'skids,' circle the landing zone around a two lane road in the desert between cities, the Marines setup an expedient road-side check point, and begin searching vehicles.These vehicle check points are being conducted by the Marines of 3rd Platoon, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment in order to disrupt insurgent supply lines and support peace and stability in the Al Anbar province."It keeps the bad guys on their toes," said Lance Cpl. James D. Bergeron, team leader and native of Deridder, La. "They are seeing that they don't have free range on the roads, and that greatly limits their ability to move weapons or people from place to place."One of the key ingredients to the success of the random check points is the speed, mobility and cover provided by the rotary wing assets of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward). "Our aircraft can carry a large number of passengers and we can get in and out to drop them off very effectively," said Capt. Kevin G. Hunter, CH-53E pilot with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 465 and native of Shelton, Conn. "We allow them to bring the personnel they need and do it in a timely manner."With the aviation aspect tied in, the whole process runs smoothly. The aircraft give the infantrymen the ability to punch out to remote and distant roads at anytime of the day, and offer peace of mind by providing close air support and readily available casualty evacuation in the event of an injury."With their fire power and vantage point, the air support makes our job a whole lot easier," said Lance Cpl. Lucas C. Wagner, team leader and native of Choctaw, Ok. "They act as a great deterrent, and provide us with a lot of information on what is coming our way. They can tell us what types of vehicles are coming, how many passengers and also if anyone is turning around or acting suspicious.""The helos are awesome, and they help us out in anyway they can," said Cpl. Christian E. Izaguirre, squad leader and native of North Bergen, N.J. "People are less likely to do something when they see three or four 'skids' flying over head. It gives you peace of mind when you are on the ground."Sometimes accompanied by a local national interpreter or even Iraqi security forces, the men of Company L said the Iraqi people are thankful and cooperative at the check points."They get a look of reassurance when they see one of their own countrymen with us at the check point," Izaguirre said. "They don't want weapons or insurgents in their communities as much as we don't, so they are willing to cooperate and appreciate what we are doing."
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