Sgt. Joseph Latsch and Sgt. Ethan Mintus, unmanned aerial system (UAS)
operators with Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 3 (VMU-3), received the
Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with Remote Impact "R" Device during a
ceremony at Hangar 103, Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay on December 11, 2017.
December 11, 2017 - (L-R) ) Sgt. Joseph Latsch and Sgt. Ethan Mintus,
both unmanned aerial system (UAS) operators with Marine Unmanned
Aerial Vehicle Squadron 3 (VMU-3), wait to be awarded during a
ceremony at Hangar 103, Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay. They
were awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with the
newly authorized Remote Impact "R" Device for their performance
during combat operations. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl.
The Marines are the first UAS operators in the Marines Corps to receive the “R”
Device for providing support during combat operations overseas.
Lt. Col. Kenneth Phelps, the commanding officer of VMU-3, said the two Marines
have made history within the UAS community and the Corps.
“This award demonstrates the impact of using a UAS during combat operations from
a remote location,” said Phelps. “This is very important to the VMU’s and
individuals that fly unmanned aircraft because we’re often supporting missions
from afar while still having a significant impact on those operations.”
Mintus, a native of Vienna, Ohio, said they were given an important mission
during his deployment.
“We had a couple of weeks of planning on a high value individual (HVI) in the
area,” said Mintus. “We were using our aircraft as an indirect fires spotting
asset, and during our flight we were coming up on bingo fuel so we had to return
to base and go off-station.”
Mintus said the decision was made to prepare another aircraft to provide
continuous support during the operation.
“A “Spoke Operation” is to extend from our launch and recovery site,” said
Latsch, a native of Allentown, Pa. “Within 48 hours of touching down on the
Spoke site we were in support of the joint task force commander from the
friendly foreign military forces of the host country.”
Latsch said they provided observation for allied forces during the operation.
“The commander gave us a mission which helped support our allies to engage the
enemy with indirect fire assets,” Latsch said. “We were trying to track enemy
targets in order to allow allied aircraft to attack targets with more accuracy.
During the time I spent in country, the detachment I was part of played a
critical role in supporting our allies on the ground during combat operations.”
Phelps said Mintus and Latsch performed exceptionally well during their
deployment in support of friendly forces in the field.
“Sgt. Latsch was the first to go down to a Spoke site that enabled us to
actually support different islands for the task force commander,” Phelps said.
“Sgt. Mintus was prepping another aircraft to launch and relieve himself
on-station while still flying a mission for the current aircraft in the air
trying to track the enemy. This helped to extend time on-station so there would
be no interruption to the support being given to the friendly forces currently
engaged with the enemy.”
Phelps said he’s pleased the Marines have played an important role in providing
UAS support during operations overseas.
“I think it’s fairly significant these two gentlemen are representative of some
of the creative Marines we have in the VMU community,” Phelps said. “I’m
extremely proud of everything they’ve done and achieved.”
By U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Isabelo Tabanguil
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