ONSLOW COUNTY — Nearly 500 Marines took part in what Lieutenant Colonel Darrel Ayers called the largest air assault exercise on the east coast in approximately 10 years.
According to Ayers, Tuesday’s exercise was part of the 2nd Marine Division’s goal of returning to a level of coordination between airwing units and infantry battalions that existed before Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“Over the last 15 years we’ve been in combat, and some of the things we used to do back in the ’90s and early 2000s have kind of gone to the wayside because of our focus on combat operations,” Lt. Colonel Ayers said.
CH-53 Stallion and MV-22 Osprey aircraft landed at Bogue Airfield, just east of Swansboro, and airlifted the Marines to Camp Davis near Holly Ridge. After securing the airfield from “enemy forces,” the Marines were to remain in the field for the following 10 days, moving throughout Camp Lejeune as they trained and conducted live-fire exercises.
The air assault exercise was intended to further prepare Marines from the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment — which had returned from Okinawa in February — for its next deployments. The battalion included 103 Marines who had joined within the past month-and-a-half after completing their training at the Marine Corps School of Infantry.
View pictures of the Steel Pike 10 air assault exercise below:
Mark Darrough can be reached at Mark@Localvoicemedia.com