Tropical storm puts an end to Talon Vision exercise
November 19, 2004
CLARK AIR BASE, Philippines — U.S. Marines and sailors at Exercise Talon Vision 05 in the Philippines had some beautiful weather this week.
And they had a special engine parts delivery needed to return their mammoth KC-130 cargo- and troop-hauling plane in the air.
But they never had both at the same time, forcing cancellation Wednesday of the already greatly abridged U.S.-Philippines annual exercise.
The exercise, which began Monday, was supposed to last five days, ending Friday, and was to focus on air delivery and parachute operations. But by Wednesday, Tropical Storm Mufia was bearing down.
“The current track ... has the storm tracking directly north of Manila, which will have a significant impact on the Clark area,” said Marine Maj. Peter Calogero, U.S. exercise co-director. “The forecast winds for the duration of the exercise are outside the limit to safely conduct parachute operations.”
No jumps should be made when winds are stronger than about 15 mph, he said; aircraft must be evacuated when winds are projected to exceed 46 mph. The forecast as of Wednesday afternoon were for maximum winds of 69 mph on Thursday.
“Unfortunately, we had to start rerigging the aircraft and repack equipment before we could get any operations done on Wednesday,” he said.
It was the latest in a string of challenges for exercise planners. Even before Talon Vision 05 began, Marines said operational commitments elsewhere forced them to severely scale back their participation in the annual exercise. Last year it lasted for three weeks and involved thousands of U.S. Marines. This year, 70 Marines from Okinawa units were sent for five days, including the Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152; the Air Delivery Platoon, part of the 3rd Materiel Readiness Battalion; and Marine Wing Support Squadron 172’s crash, fire and rescue unit.
Planned for Talon Vision 05 were two drops a day of troops and cargo, for five straight days.
Monday, the opening day, one container delivery system package was dropped, followed by 10 U.S. servicemembers. Their Filipino counterparts weren’t able to follow, however, as a problem with the aircraft’s rear door cut short the mission.
The door was repaired and skies were clear and temperatures balmy Tuesday — but the plane developed an engine problem. Marines were grounded, awaiting parts to be flown in from Okinawa. So instead, they taught their Philippine counterparts how to build container loads for parachute drops and practiced emergency medical routines and crash, fire and rescue techniques.
The engine parts arrived late Tuesday afternoon in a second KC-130 from Okinawa. Planners said they hoped to use both planes to stage more drops the rest of the week.
Enter Tropical Storm Mufia. Wednesday, Marines and sailors hurried to rerig the aircraft and repack their equipment. Most of them left Clark Air Field by 3 p.m. Wednesday on the two KC-130s, from Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152.
Calogero said about seven U.S. servicemembers stayed behind to wrap up paperwork and stay with equipment that couldn’t be carried on Wednesday’s flights. A pre-arranged flight is to pick up the remainder of the troops on Saturday, unless the weather clears and a plane can be sent earlier to return them to Okinawa.
And there’s always next year.
“I apologize for cutting the exercise short after all the hard work and dedication from all the personnel involved,” Calogero said. “We look forward to all future operations here.”