21 July 2014
CPL Hayden Morgan - part of a light infantry platoon from 1NZIR practicing underwater helicopter escape training in the pool at Marine Corps Base Kaneohe Bay in Hawaii as part of exercise RIMPAC.
With three operational tours under his belt, you’d be forgiven for thinking Hawke’s Bay man Corporal (CPL) Hayden Morgan might not have been very excited when he was told he was attending a six week exercise overseas.
But it’s not just any exercise.
CPL Morgan is with a light infantry platoon from the 1st Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (1RNZIR) in Hawaii for Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC), the largest maritime military exercise in the world. More than 25,000 people, over 40 ships and 200 aircraft from 22 nations have converged on Oahu for the biennial exercise.
CPL Morgan attended St John’s College and has deployed to Afghanistan and to Timor-Leste twice. Previous exercises have only taken him as far as Australia, so he was happy to hear he was heading to RIMPAC.
“Not only is training here invaluable, but I get to visit a place I’ve always wanted to see,” said CPL Morgan.
Hawaii is rich in military history and CPL Morgan was with the platoon as they paid their respects at the USS Arizona Memorial and the Punchbowl Cemetery.
Hawaii’s recreational activities are also second to none, but it’s the training that CPL Morgan is really enjoying.
The United States Marine Corps (USMC) urban training facility replicates a small town complete with petrol station, fruit and vegetable markets, and a butcher. Smell generators add to the realism, and there are cameras everywhere to record movements to assist in debriefing and learning.
The platoon has also been on the range and completed Helicopter Underwater Escape Training.
CPL Morgan said it’s not just the learning that is valuable, but also the relationships they’re building.
“We’re training with the Canadians and USMC and I’ve found that the Canadians are very similar to us. We get to check and compare tactics, and discuss and debrief with them. It’s a great learning opportunity.”
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