MARINE CORPS BASE, Hawaii -- Members of the 95th Engineer Company (Clearance), 84th Engineer Battalion, 130th Engineer Brigade, trained on helocast operations January 25, 2018 at Marine Corps Base Hawaii.
Partnering with the Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463 (HMH-463), the Soldiers simulated being inserted into a military area of operations by exiting an aircraft just above the water's surface.
According to the 95th Engineer Company commander, Capt. Phillip Hom, the helocast training is just one of several yearly combat engineering requirements for his Soldiers.
"Basically our Soldiers are taking a step out of a perfectly good helicopter into water, which is essential because it's part of our yearly training requirements," Hom said. "We had a few people who were afraid of water, a few afraid of heights, but they had a lot of heart, overcame their fear and enjoyed the training."
Throughout the training, Soldiers were required to exit a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter at an airspeed of 10 knots or less. The 95th Engineer Company Soldiers then plunged into the waters of Kaneohe Bay and swam to shore.
Prior to the helocast training, the Soldiers of the 95th Engineer Company conducted combat water survival tests, which allowed them to gain confidence swimming with a life vest and entering the water from at least 15 feet.
While tough, the combat water survival tests were excellent method for the 95th Engineer Company Soldiers to prepare for the helocast training.
"Mentally, I feel that the helocast is one of the toughest tasks for our Soldiers," said Staff Sgt. Mohamed Fouad, a combat engineer with the 95th Engineer Company. "Many Soldiers are afraid of the water, and heights. And when you include jumping out of a moving aircraft, some could really have issues."
Though drained physically and mentally, Hom said his Soldiers gained valuable knowledge from the helocast training and enjoyed the experience overall.
"I'm extremely proud of my Soldiers," said Hom. "Just seeing some of these young Soldiers who've never even ridden in a helicopter step out of one is a testament to their personal courage."