USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, At Sea (NNS) -- Four CH-53E "Super Stallion" helicopters from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 266 landed on board USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) to refuel following operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan Nov. 15.
The "Fighting Griffins" of VMM 266 are part of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit and were returning to USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) after completing humanitarian relief efforts in Pakistan.
Because of the long distance between Pakistan and Kearsarge, the helicopters were required to use the Truman as a "lily pad" to take on fuel.
"I've been on every LHD on the east coast, but this is my first time on a carrier," said Marine Corps Capt. Joe Haley. "It's an awesome experience."
The CH-53E "Super Stallion" is the largest and heaviest helicopter in the U.S. military and is used for troop transportation and heavy lifting. These characteristics were indispensable during the Marines' recent mission to deliver much-needed supplies to Pakistanis following massive summer flooding.
"We worked with the World Food Program and Pakistani army to deliver supplies such as water, medicine, rice and biscuits," said Haley. "It was a treat for us to be able to do that. It was a dream mission for our guys to be able to employ our assets for humanitarian relief."
Crew members who observed their arrival and departure from vulture's row or the flight deck were quick to comment on the helicopter's size and powerful rotor wash they created.
"The CH-53Es are very big and the down wash is overwhelming at first," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate [Handling] Dylan Tiefert, a landing signal enlisted who has prior experience with the helicopters. "They are very fun to work with."
For some seasoned crew members, the visit was a reminder of the aircraft's evolving legacy in the Navy and Marine Corps.
"In the late 80s and early 90s this was the main way to get mail to the ship," explained Lt. Cmdr. Rodney Moss, Truman's aircraft handling officer. "It was great to see them again; it brought back old memories."
For more news from USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn75/.