Marine Corps brings harrier jets for joint training with the Idaho National Guard

Posted at 3:48 PM, Apr 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-15 17:48:53-04

The Idaho National Guard welcomed some special guests to Gowen field as Marines came from Cherry Point North Carolina to conduct joint training with the guard.

The marines brought their AV-8B harriers to fly with the Idaho National Guard's A-10 Warthogs as both planes provide close air support for troops on the ground.

"This jet has been the Marine Corps premier attack aircraft for close air support," said Major Eric Shiebe, a pilot with the marines. "I love it, it’s probably one of the last stick and rudder airplanes that are out and it’s a lot of fun doing the vertical take-off and landings that this jet is known for."

Harrier jets have some unique abilities with their vertical and short take-off and landing capabilities, the marines have been flying this jet for more than three decades.

AV-8B Harrier Jet

But it's not just the pilots who are training as it takes a crew to support these planes and we watched a crew from North Carolina load a 500-pound payload, it was a dummy round made of metal that provides realistic training.

"There are not a lot of people that do what we do, I’ve been in the Marine Corps for 17 years and it has been the pride of my adult life to serve this country," said Chief Warrant Officer Brian Bianchi, the Maintenance Material Control Officer for this marines unit. "I get to see plans unfold and see the young maintainers take good care of these aircraft, watch pilots take off with a fully loaded aircraft, and come back with mission success.”

For the Idaho National Guard, this training also helps them because when duty calls different units and services in the military have to work together to accomplish the mission.

“It’s how we fight our wars," said Captain Nate Gamache, a pilot with the Idaho National Guard. "Anytime you can integrate with any of those sister services it’s an awesome opportunity to learn, see how they fight and how we can better help each other.”

The Idaho National Guard also wants the public to know that jets will be in the air this week, but they are taking measures to cut down on the noise.

"We do what we can to limit the impact on the community," said Gamache. We do some noise-sensitive departures and arrivals to minimize the impact.

Next week the Idaho National Guard and the Marine Corps will be flying in the evening and the guard wants to make sure the public isn't surprised and they know what's in the sky above them.

"It is critically important that we conduct this night training so that we are ready to go when our nation calls on us," said Gamache.

The marines from Cherry Point, North Carolina told us they've enjoyed their time in Idaho so far and they say flying in the open, mountainous terrain here in Idaho gives them a different experience from what they are used to back home.