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Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

"The West Coast's Premier Fleet Marine Force Training Base"

Cal Fire trains Marines to combat Wild Land Fires

By Cpl. Sarah Wolff-Diaz | | May 10, 2013


Crew Chiefs Staff Sgt. Brian Dinning and Lance Cpl. Gary Persall count down “Four. Three. Two. One,” as Maj. Mike Davidge, the pilot of CH-46 E helicopter dubbed “Knightrider,” positions it’s whirling blades and fire bucket over Lake Talega during the 6th annual Wild Land Fire Fighting Exercise here May 9. 

 Marine Medium Helicopter Training Squardon-164 here with 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, along with Helicopter Combat Support Squadron 3, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 21 and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection extinguished simulated fires during the exercise.

“(The exercise) demonstrates how the world’s greatest fighting force and the greatest Navy is going to support the domestic efforts for wild land firefighting both on our installation, and if needed off installation,” said Lt. Col. Dana Gemmingen, deputy director of aviation MCI-West. “It also showcases a great partnership between the Cal Fire and other local agencies.”

Fire buckets, also known as Bambi Buckets, were attached to the Navy and Marine Corps helicopters. The military aircrafts then followed Cal Fire’s Bell 407 helicopter to Lake Talega where they each dropped elevation to fill the buckets with lake water.

Moving in a clock-wise circle the helicopters released the lake water from the buckets over the simulated fire line.

“It’s huge to know that we have the surge capabilities from the military here in southern California,” said Chief John Winder, assistant deputy director with Cal Fire. “It’s truly a model that is being looked at nation-wide as a means for the military to help their local communities.”

For more information on Cal Fire, visit http://calfire.ca.gov/.

Contact Cpl. Sarah Wolff-Diaz at sarah.wolff@usmc.mil.