A group of wide-eyed, excited Marines assigned to the Squadron Intelligence Training Certification Course boarded a CH-53E Super Stallion as it prepared to fly them from Marine Corps Air Station New River, to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, May 16.
The Marines are recently designated intelligence specialists participating in SITCC after receiving official orders to aviation units following completion of Military Combat Training and Marine Air-Ground Task Force Intelligence Specialist Entry Course. In addition to teaching about air intelligence, the SITCC program provides those Marines the opportunity to visit various aviation units stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and MCAS New River.
“By doing these trips, it gives the Marines an opportunity to ask questions they have about the aircraft and understand what their jobs mean to the Marines on the ground and in the air,” said Cristopher Cabingas, the director of the MCAS Cherry Point SITCC program.
The SITCC program conducts trips to the surrounding Marine Corps bases with every new class, but this is the first time the course has taken a step further and gone to ground combat units stationed at MCB Camp Lejeune. This was also the first time the Marines had the opportunity to fly back to MCAS Cherry Point aboard a CH-53E Super Stallion.
“Actually getting to be inside of the helicopter and flying was one of my favorite parts,” said Lance Cpl. Jeremiah Eaton, a student assigned to the SITCC program. “To actually get hands-on [experience] and be able to do that was amazing.”
The Marines also learned about various weapons systems and aircraft such as the M777 155mm Howitzer, M1A1 Abrams Tank, MV-22 Osprey, UH-1Y Venom, AH-1W Super Cobra and CH-53E Super Stallion.
“To come here to the SITCC program and go more in depth with what the [air combat element] is all about helps me to feel more confident with what I’ll be doing in the fleet since I’m going to be (assigned to) a squadron,” said Eaton.
According to Eaton, the experience offered him and his fellow classmates a preview of the capabilities and limitations of their future units. Eaton will soon be assigned to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469, Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing stationed at MCB Camp Pendleton, California.
“My opinion is that all Intelligence Marines should get this experience,” said Eaton. “You never know when you’ll be working alongside the [air combat element] or need an understanding of the capabilities of Marine Corps aircraft and pilots themselves.”