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HMM-365 Combat Recovery Team

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  • HMM-365 Combat Recovery Team

    The Dangle Angle

    If you don't mind dangling from a rope in mid-air above Viet Cong infested jungle, it's a fine job.

    It may not sound like too attractive an occupation, but it's a satisfying one. If you're accepted into Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 365's Combat Recovery Team, you will probably be instrumental in saving people's lives, people in crashed aircraft.

    There are 23 Marines on the 365 team, and all are volunteers. There could be more if all who wanted to join were accepted. But the screening process is selective and the preliminary training is tough. A man's motivation and strength have to be somewhere in the realm of the superhuman.

    The men are lowered into terrain which can't be penetrated over land or by water, not, at least with the equipment needed for rescue. And they're likely to have to fight the VC while trying to save injured pilots and passengers. When the Viet Cong see an airplane go down, they hurry to the site, hoping to capture the injured and gather intelligence information from the bodies of the dead.

    The Combat Recovery Team beats them to it. Within five minutes after HMM-365 is notified of a crash, the three sub-teams have gathered. Over the crash site they rappel (a method of controlled descent by rope) one after another, to the ground. Some of the Marines set up a defensive perimeter. Others head for the wreckage, hoping to find life in the tangled mass of metal. If there is, the injured are treated and, if possible, winched back to the hovering helicopter. If a man is too seriously hurt, the recoverers assemble a saw and hack a landing zone from the jungle.

    The dead are lifted into the copters, thermite grenades burn the wreckage and the Combat Recovery Team is hoisted aboard.

    Naval Aviation News, Aug 65, pp 10-11.