Photo Information

U.S. Marines put out the last few spot fires on an engulfed aircraft during a training exercise with Royal Thai sailors as part of Exercise Cobra Gold 16 at Utapao, Thailand, Feb. 19, 2016. The Marines and Thai sailors trained together throughout the exercise to build relationships and skills. Cobra Gold is a multi-national exercise designed to increase cooperation and interoperability between participating nations in the Asia-Pacific. The Marines are with the aircraft rescue and firefighting section with Marine Wing Support Squadron 172, Marine Aircraft Group 36. 1st Marines Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force.

Photo by Cpl. William Hester

Cobra Gold 16: Training in Flames

20 Feb 2016 | Cpl. William Hester 1st Marine Aircraft Wing

UTAPAO, Thailand - U.S. Marines and Royal Thai Sailors have grown close during exercise Cobra Gold 16. They’ve spent every day together, living, eating and training.

Marines with aircraft rescue and firefighting section, Marine Wing Support Squadron 172 teamed up with Royal Thai Sailors during a unique training event, February 16, 2016, where they set an unserviceable aircraft on fire to practice their procedures together.

“We’re going to use our roof turrets and rain down to put out most of the fire when we come up to any aircraft that is fully engulfed,” said Sgt. J. Diskin, an aviation rescue and firefighter with MWSS 172, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “When we spray our roof turrets we’re putting out 90 percent of the fire in the first minute.”

Using their roof turrets is the first step in the process of putting out an engulfed aircraft. Once they have the fire under control they send in the hand line operators.

“There’s going to be fuel on the ground when you have an aircraft crash,” said Diskin, from Uda, Texas. “We simulated spraying the fuel away from them, they got to the aircraft, made entry and put out the cargo area.”

During this event there were two teams, one being Royal Thai sailors, and the other being U.S. Marines. Together, they worked together to put out spot fires with hand line hoses.

Throughout this exercise the Marines and Thai Sailors have spent most of their time together.

“Cobra Gold has been a really good experience,” said Diskin. “I’ve learned a lot from the Thais, and we’ve had a pretty strong bond. A lot of the guys came last year so we’ve been able to share a lot of moments together during training, like the fire today.”

Cobra Gold is a multi-national exercise designed to improve cooperation and interoperability with aims to preserve and promote peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region.

“I hope my Marines got to do something they won’t get to do anywhere else,” said Diskin. “It gives us a different perspective and is good for the Marines to learn new ideas and ways to do things. They can bring that knowledge back to grow themselves.”