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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Hawaii Marine base rehearsing for event

Photo galleryPhoto gallery: Blues on the Bay
Video: Marines, SEALs practice pilot rescue tactics

By Catherine E. Toth
Advertiser Windward O'ahu Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

A Marine rappelling out of a helicopter was part of rehearsals yesterday for this weekend's Blues on the Bay event. There will be free air shows and demonstrations both Saturday and Sunday.

DEBORAH BOOKER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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What: 2007 Blues on the Bay

When: Saturday and Sunday

Where: Marine Corps Base Hawai'i at Kane'ohe Bay

Schedule: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. for car show, carnival rides and autograph sessions

Air shows: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., including performances by the Blue Angels, aerobatic pilots Patty Wagstaff, Greg Poe, Mike Wiskus, Jill Long and Tim Weber and the Red Bull helicopter; demonstrations by H-60 and H-65 helicopters, and Coast Guard C-130 and Air Force C-17 aircraft; and skydiving by Navy Leap Frogs and the Army Golden Knights.

Cost: Free and open to the public. Tickets for special seating, including grandstands, box seats and chalets, are available at Ticketmaster locations, at www.ticketmaster.com, at the Information, Ticket and Tours Office at the base and at other military installations.

Parking: Free on base; shuttle service from Ford Island is $4 per person.

Information: 808-371-2804, www.bluesonthebay.org or www.mcbh.usmc.mil

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MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAI'I It was a scene out a war movie:

Two sailors are stranded behind enemy lines. A helicopter flies overhead. Two parachutists leap from the chopper, steering their chutes to a grassy area hundreds of feet below to help save the men.

This Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel maneuver is standard practice for Marines and sailors on rescue missions.

It's one of the demonstrations that will be part of the 2007 Blues on the Bay this weekend at the Kane'ohe base.

All this week, military personnel are practicing the special maneuvers that will help attract an expected 100,000 people this weekend to the event, featuring an air show by the famed Blue Angels.

"We want to showcase the capabilities of our Marines and sailors," said Maj. Matt Collins, air show coordinator and Marine pilot. "This is just a small piece of what people will see."

Partly, these demonstrations serve as a recruiting tool for the military. The more impressive the public demonstration, the more interest it may generate.

"You ask men and women in uniform and they'll say it was an air show that got them interested," Collins said.

Earlier this month, the Marine Corps announced it had met its annual target for recruiting and retaining troops despite the dangers of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Reuters.

The Marine Corps said it had exceeded its goal of growing its ranks to 184,000 in the same fiscal year and now has 186,000 Marines.

Yesterday's rehearsal featured Navy SEALS and Marines practicing on a base runway that will serve as the center of this weekend's show.

Two CH-53 Sea Stallions soared over the runway to get into position.

One dropped two Navy SEALS to be "rescued." They landed with a thud on a small strip of grass about 400 feet wide.

Another chopper flew overhead, releasing two other sailors in precision chutes from about 1,200 feet. They maneuvered their chutes toward an orange X on the grassy area. Both managed to land fairly close to the target.

The two helicopters returned, hovering about 50 feet up. About a dozen sailors and Marines sans guns slid down ropes to secure the perimeter.

A few minutes later, one chopper landed, and most of the men scurried on board.

The other deployed a Special Purpose Insertion Extraction rope to pick up the remaining four men.

They clipped themselves onto the rope and dangled from the helicopter as it took off, traveling at about 90 knots over Kane'ohe Bay.

The one thing missing: huge walls of fire and explosions, which will be part of the show over the weekend.

"Oh, there'll be lots of good fire and explosions," Collins said. "We'll have the things that get pyromaniacs in the crowd excited."

Reach Catherine E. Toth at ctoth@honoluluadvertiser.com.