"Dragons" Deliver Disaster Aid During Exercise Wakayama Alert

U.S. Marine SSgt Caleb R. Crosier hands a cranial helmet to a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force member during exercise Wakayama Alert Oct. 19 in Wakayama prefecture, Japan. This exercise involved the movement of medical personnel, supplies and equipment from established airfields to remote sites and shipping to expedite stabilization after a natural disaster. Photo by PFC Cedric Haller.

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan (Oct. 19, 2014) - Marines with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 participated in a humanitarian aid and disaster relief drill using MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft during exercise Wakayama Alert Oct. 19 in Wakayama prefecture.

Wakayama Alert is a bilateral HADR exercise that demonstrates the capability of the Osprey to respond to natural disasters in Japan and the Asia-Pacific region as a whole.

"Just like a few years ago, when Japan was hit by the tsunami, we're once again demonstrating our ability to operate with the Japanese should another natural disaster strike" said Capt. Zachary J. Passini, an Osprey pilot with VMM-265, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force.

The Osprey combines the capability of a helicopter with the speed and range of a fixed-wing aircraft and has the ability to fly twice as fast, carry nearly three times the payload and has four times the range of the older CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter.

"Flying in the Osprey is the best part of my job," said Sgt Allen L. Hilliard III, an Osprey crew chief with the squadron. "I love it. It's a great aircraft. If I could fly every single day of my life, I would. It's really amazing and I think it's awesome that the Japanese allow us to do these kinds of exercises with them."

This exercise involved the movement of medical personnel, supplies and equipment from established airfields to remote sites to expedite stabilization after a natural disaster.

"Each time we're called to provide aid to specific areas it is usually in the form of food, water, reconstruction materials and manpower," said Hilliard, from Riverside, California. "As a tiltrotor squadron, our main function (during HADR) is to provide a way to transport the aid."

In addition to humanitarian aid, the Osprey has a proven track record in its versatility as a Marine Corps aircraft, to include successfully assisting in disaster relief operations in Haiti, participating in the recovery of a downed U.S. pilot in Libya, supporting combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and conducting multiple Marine expeditionary unit deployments.

"This exercise shows that we're here to support the Japanese, no matter what they need, whenever disaster should strike," said SSgt Jared S. Watson, an Osprey crew chief with the squadron. "With the Osprey, we're able to land in places that an airplane can't and transport heavier loads of cargo than a normal helicopter to better support the humanitarian aid."

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