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Photo gallery: Embedded with Ospreys on a relief mission in the Philippines

Nov. 19, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  

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A crowd rushes an MV-22 Osprey with Marine Corps squadron VMM-265 (Reinforced), as it attempts to delivers relief supplies Tuesday to areas hit by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. (Mike Morones/Staff)

Editor’s note: Staff photographer Mike Morones is with the Marines conducting humanitarian relief operations in the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan. About 400 Marines are there now for Operation Damayan, which is Tagalog for “help in the time of need.” They are with the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262 and Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152, all out of Okinawa.

En route are about 1,000 Marines with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, including 100 members of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265, who will fly to the Philippines aboard eight more MV-22B Ospreys. The rest of the MEU is embarked with two Navy dock landing ships.

Morones spent most of Tuesday with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265. He filed this report and these photos. See his previous report here.

Dragon 02, an MV-22 Osprey piloted by Capt. Travis Keeney and Capt. Dave Goodman, left Clark Air Base on Tuesday morning with pallets of food bound for Guiuan and other storm-damaged areas in the Philippines. Crew chiefs Cpl. Zachary Lyon and Lance Cpl. Michael Marin attached their gunner belts to the floor and stowed the cargo. The aircraft’s engines wouldn’t power down for nearly eight hours.

This is a typical day for the Osprey crews here.

Their first stop was a lonely little airstrip north of Guiuan. It’s manned by Air Force air controllers. As the Osprey came to a rest on the tarmac, the airmen, joined by a stream of Filipino locals, ran to the aircraft and quickly offloaded the boxes stamped “USAID.” Once empty, the Osprey was airborne again and in search of another load of supplies to pick up and distribute.

In a village called Salcedo, Dragon 02 attempted to land in an area that had not yet seen much relief. But before it even touched the ground, hungry Filipinos rushed us, begging for the boxes of food aid and bags of rice.

When the ramp was dropped, people began shoving their way onto the bird. Keeney was notified and spun up the rotors, creating a strong rotor wash that encouraged people to back away but not before some managed to grab a bag. As the crowd dispersed, the crew chiefs pulled up the ramp and the Osprey leapfrogged to another landing zone nearby where local forces had established some level of security.

The rest of the food was distributed without incident, and Dragon 02 returned to Guiuan for fuel. Then it was home to Clark Air Base.

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