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U.S. Marine Corps Forces Reserve

Ready. Relevant. Responsive.

2000 Opelousas Ave., New Orleans, LA 70114
Marines, Army National Guard working together again

By Sgt. Adwin Esters | U.S. Marine Corps Forces Reserve | June 18, 2014

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Marines walk out to a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter operated by the 1st Battalion, 171st Aviation Regiment, New Mexico Army National Guard in a joint service exercise for preparation, situational awareness and medic familiarization during Integrated Training Exercise 4-14 aboard Marine Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms California, June 13, 2014. ITX 4-14 is the largest annual U.S. Marine Corps Reserve training exercise, which helps refine skills necessary to seamlessly integrate with active duty counterparts as well as operate as a complete MAGTF. (U.S. Marine photo by Sgt. Adwin Esters/Released)

Marines walk out to a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter operated by the 1st Battalion, 171st Aviation Regiment, New Mexico Army National Guard in a joint service exercise for preparation, situational awareness and medic familiarization during Integrated Training Exercise 4-14 aboard Marine Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms California, June 13, 2014. ITX 4-14 is the largest annual U.S. Marine Corps Reserve training exercise, which helps refine skills necessary to seamlessly integrate with active duty counterparts as well as operate as a complete MAGTF. (U.S. Marine photo by Sgt. Adwin Esters/Released) (Photo by Sgt. Adwin Esters)


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A UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter with Company C, 1st Battalion, 171st Aviation Regiment, New Mexico Army National Guard, prepares to take off to conduct simulated medical evacuations with Marines during Integrated Training Exercise 4-14 aboard Marine Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California, June 13, 2014. ITX 4-14 is the largest annual U.S. Marine Corps Reserve training exercise, which helps refine skills necessary to seamlessly integrate with active duty counterparts as well as operate as a complete MAGTF. (U.S. Marine photo by Sgt. Adwin Esters/Released)

A UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter with Company C, 1st Battalion, 171st Aviation Regiment, New Mexico Army National Guard, prepares to take off to conduct simulated medical evacuations with Marines during Integrated Training Exercise 4-14 aboard Marine Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California, June 13, 2014. ITX 4-14 is the largest annual U.S. Marine Corps Reserve training exercise, which helps refine skills necessary to seamlessly integrate with active duty counterparts as well as operate as a complete MAGTF. (U.S. Marine photo by Sgt. Adwin Esters/Released) (Photo by Sgt. Adwin Esters)


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MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- Between 2011 and 2012, no unit flew more medical evacuation missions for Marines than Company C, 1st Battalion, 171st Aviation Regiment, of the New Mexico Army National Guard. The same unit is working with Marines again here at Integrated Training Exercise 4-14.

The last time the company was deployed, it was in support of the Marines. When the chance presented itself to once again work side- by-side, the company couldn’t pass it up.

“The opportunity arose to work with the Marines during this ITX and I felt it was a good fit for us,” said Army Maj. Thomas Dunn, commanding officer, Company C, 1-171 Aviation Regiment, and native of Albuquerque, New Mexico. “We’ve been home for two years so doing a joint exercise like this gets us back in the role and feel of doing MEDEVAC missions.”

This unit specializes in MEDEVACs, not to be confused with casualty evacuations. MEDEVACs use a standardized and dedicated vehicle to provide care while transporting patients to a medical facility. They will also always have a flight paramedic to provide care. A CASEVAC uses vehicles that are not standardized and may not provide care while transporting.

“My job is to stabilize the patient as soon as we are up in the air,” said Staff Sgt. Meg Ford, flight paramedic with 1-171. “I love working with Marines because we are hardly on the ground 30 seconds before the patient is ready to be evacuated.”

Time is of the essence when dealing with injuries, which can be anything from gunshot wounds to single, double and triple amputees, added Ford. A critical part of the process is that the Marines must help load the casualties while at the same time provide security for the aircraft. Each person involved must strive for perfection.

“In Afghanistan you had to be at your best,” said Ford. “Here, in this training environment the Marines are giving us 110 percent effort, which in turn makes us better at our job.”

With a deployment in their near future, 1-171 hopes to return to MCAGCC to train. Both the scale of the exercise and the training environment in Twentynine Palms is hard to duplicate back in New Mexico.

“You can’t beat this,” said Dunn. “If I closed my eyes I would think I was back in Afghanistan. I would really like to be a part of this exercise again. Training like this is invaluable.”

Simulated drills and exercises like ITX 4-14, as well as working together with different branches of the armed forces, allows both the Army National Guard and the Marine Corps Reserve to learn from each other and gain invaluable experience. At the end of the day, this helps enable seamless integration with active duty counterparts as well as increase proficiency in operating as a complete Marine Air-Ground Task Force.
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