Helicopter door gunner: if you feel a sense of panic when at height, this job is not for you

Taken on May 24, 2012, during Exercise Eager Lion 12, the following image shows Lance Cpl. Sean Matthews, UH-1N Huey crew chief, Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 269 attached to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron VMM-261 (reinforced), 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, firing an M-2 .50 cal. machine gun from a Huey during a live-fire, bilateral counterattack drill.

He wears a Maxillo Facial Shield (MFS), used to safeguard the face from flying debris and windblast during helicopter operations.

The door gunner is tasked with firing and maintaining manually directed armament to provide cover to ground operations as well as to defend the helicopters from ground threats.

The gunner position is particularly vulnerable to the enemy fire because of the helicopter’s open door.

Image credit: U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Robert Fisher

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.