Residents of the small town of Bar Harbor, on Mount Desert Island, Maine, are not unused to LifeFlights medical ambulance helicopters occasionally using the town’s ball field as a landing zone.
However, it was still a bit of a shock when a Marine Corps attack helicopter landed on the field while another Marine Corps chopper circled overhead on Saturday afternoon, Nov. 18.
People using the park were alarmed, according to the Mount Desert Islander. On top of that, the volume of the military choppers was enough to set off at least one car alarm.
— Army Complex (@ArmyComplex) November 21, 2017
Normally, when a medical chopper is about to land, the police cordon off the field, shut down the surrounding streets, and warn nearby residents to keep children and pets indoors. In this case, no warning was given.
Parents had their children playing in Park Street playground, across the street from the baseball diamond. Cars were driving down the adjoining roads.
Kate Hall Jordan had brought her son, Finn, to the playground. Finn looked at the descending helicopter and said, “That’s not LifeFlight. That’s an attack helicopter, like an Apache.”
Forgotten Phone Prompts Impromptu Landing
As it turns out, six Marines had stopped for lunch that Saturday at a local restaurant called The Thirsty Whale. They had driven up from Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport in Trenton, on the mainland, about 10 miles away.
One of the marines had left his cellphone behind.
Shortly after they’d left the restaurant, server Jess Witherell got a call from the airport.
“How far away are you from the town ball field?” the voice on the phone asked, Witherell told the Mount Desert Islander.
“Well, are you walking or driving?” she asked.
“We’re landing a helicopter at the ball field,” was the reply. The caller asked if someone could meet the helicopter at the field.
“I got chosen to be the person to go,” dishwasher Bryce Lambert told the Mount Desert Islander. “I hopped in the car.”
Lambert met the chopper at the field. A marine jumped out, ran to meet Lambert, and took the phone. He gave Lambert his name tag as a souvenir, a way of saying “Thank you.”
“He pulled the [velcro] patch off of his jacket and handed it to me,” Lambert said.
The helicopter immediately leaped skyward, and with the other chopper, disappeared into the distance.
The Marines were apparently part of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 773, the “Red Dogs,” normally stationed at Joint Base McGuire–Dix–Lakehurst, New Jersey. The base Public Relations Officer, Airman First Class Jessica Blair, was not able to provide information about what the Red Dog helicopters crews were doing in a tiny Maine tourist town.
However, Bangor, Maine, NBC affiliate WLBS Channel 2 reported that some Marine helicopter units were stationed temporarily in Brunswick to carry out cold-weather training in the winter of 2016–2017. it seems likely the same units might be back on the same assignment.
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