HIMAR blasts off
KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- United States Marines from 5th Battalion, 11th Marines, from Camp Pendleton, California, are deployed to Camp Hansen, Okinawa, and trained with 17th Special Operations Squadron members by loading a high mobility artillery rocket system Jan. 23.
The HIMAR system is a self-propelled artillery piece with a rocket pod on the back that shoots rockets and missiles. It is easily utilized allowing for rapid operations, according to U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Ryan Crider, 5th Battalion, 11th Marines HIMAR crew member.
Marines and Airmen spent a majority of the day loading and unloading the HIMAR system onto a C-130 Hercules for day and nighttime iterations.
“Today there are three Marines in charge of each HIMAR system, and there are the Air Force loadmasters in charge of the plane,” said Crider. “Working together on operations is important because the HIMAR system is still relatively new to most of the different branches.”
Crider emphasized the importance of training as the only active duty USMC Battalion to use the HIMAR system on island currently.
“For all training missions, we make sure to do everything by the book, especially today since we are working with new HIMAR system drivers,” said Staff Sgt. Tyler Farrell, 17th Special Operations Squadron loadmaster. “The mission was highly effective; the new drivers received intense driver training and loadmasters trained on a weapon system they are unfamiliar with.”
According to Farrell, challenges are a normal occurrence when working with unfamiliar systems.
“At night the clearance on the aircraft made loading the HIMAR difficult,” said Farrell. “So the loadmasters and drivers of the HIMAR are both using night-vision goggles.”
Opportunities to train with members of other military branches allow aircrew and other personnel chances to practice types of operations during different hours of the day, stated Farrell.
“The team integration piece is important because we don’t get to work with Marines often,” said Farrell. ”Opportunities like this allow us to develop new capabilities and ensure safe transport of the weapon system day and night.”