Marines Wow OIB

by Feb 25, 2022Around Town, South Brunswick

U.S. Marines conducting a practice exercise at Odell Williamson Airport was an exciting sight on January 30.

“They’re attacking the airport,” joked Ocean Isle Beach (OIB) resident John Cunningham. “That’s a gun-ship!”

A quiet late Sunday morning suddenly raised heartbeats on January 30, and all eyes lifted to the skies. U.S. Marine helicopters swung low to the treetops simulating assault support aircraft delivering troops, and OIB’s O’Dell Williamson Airport was the surprise site of the exercise.

Camp LeJeune dispatched one UH-1Y Venom and two AH-1Z Vipers with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 167 to conduct aerial escorts and landings “to maintain readiness and proficiency,” confirmed 1stLt Gregory Kosiras. “Constant training ensures that the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing is ready and able to conduct missions globally as the aviation combat element to the Marine Air-Ground Task Force.”

Troop Landing

As residents ran from their houses with cameras to capture the commotion, the copters made a couple of swoops and dips around subdivisions and shopping centers to the airport runway. Others hopped into their cars in hopes of watching the action firsthand at the airstrip. A couple with cell phones got the shots they wanted and bellowed a “YES” with smiles.

Airport pilot and instructor Jim Muthig, retired Army, said the Marines asked to take a few passes. The airport wasn’t busy and was happy to accommodate.

“They were flying friendly, practicing troop insertions,” Muthig said. The gun-ships protected the troop carrier high and low, so troops could exit to engage the enemy with supportive fire cover, he explained.

2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Logo

1stLt Kosiras said there were no additional troops aboard the aircraft other than the flight crews, however. The exercise was for the flight crews. “Typically, an AH-1Z Viper helicopter operates with two pilots, whereas two pilots and two crew chiefs operate a UH-1Y Venom with the potential for additional troops,” he added. The Marines selected Odell Williamson Airport due to its uncongested airspace.

Before this exercise, some locals spotted two unmarked black or dark green copters, which seemed to land and take off at the airport a few days beforehand. When asked about those, Kosiras said Marine helicopters are typically gray, and the Marines were unfamiliar with the craft. He said they were most likely from a different service.

Vipers and Venom OIB NC

A search of the Internet for unmarked black helicopters yielded interesting results. Skywatchers apparently have spotted them internationally, and they’ve become a hot topic. Theories range from government takeovers to UFOs and “men in black.” Some people said they are actually very dark green with dark green markings, making it almost impossible to identify. They reasoned they were military helicopters used by special forces. Jim Muthig said he was aware of them, and when asked about their appearance at the airport, he said he could not talk about it. When asked if he was kidding, he said he just could not say.

(Writer’s note: Go ask Jim yourself. He’s a nice guy, but I think he is pulling our leg.)

Quickly came and quickly ended perhaps a 15-minute visit to OIB by our U.S. Marines, where they are always welcome and appreciated in Ocean Isle Beach. Will they be back? The lieutenant wasn’t direct about it, but he said they use various outlying airfields, so keep your cameras ready (for the gray and the black ones)!

Photos by Ed Beckley and the United States Marine Corps