Photo Information

Critical skills operators with Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command exit the back of a KC-130J Super Hercules during bilateral static-line jump training over a drop zone near Memphis, Tenn., Sept. 29, 2014. Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252 supported the MARSOC Marines who were conducting long-range raid training.

Photo by Cpl. J. R. Heins

Green means go; VMGR-252 opens back ramp to support MARSOC jumps

7 Oct 2014 | Cpl. J. R. Heins Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point

Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252 and Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command performed bilateral static-line jump training and a container delivery system drop near Memphis, Tenn., Sept. 29.

Pilots and crew with VMGR-252 flew a KC-130J Super Hercules from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina to MCAS New River, North Carolina, where they picked up more than 40 Marines.

“Our mission for the exercise was to support the MARSOC Marines with an aerial insertion for their long-range raid training,” said Capt. Tyler Burnham, a naval aviator and mission commander with the squadron.

The Marines also dropped a CDS containing supplies and meals for the special operators. In order to perform a proper CDS, the crew chiefs rigged the system with a parachute to a static-line. Once the crew chiefs confirmed with the pilots and mission commander they were over the landing zone, they eleased the systems from the back of the aircraft.

“For the pilots and crew, this training was great for sustaining proficiency in this type of mission,” said Burnham, a native of University Place, Wash. “Preparing for the mission itself is the most difficult part. Every detail needs to be thought out.”

Communication among crew members is the key to a well executed mission, according to Burnham.

“For this type of training you need to learn the procedures, techniques and retain that knowledge,” said Gunnery Sgt. John Marsh, a KC-130J crew chief with the squadron. “We had a few junior Marines, who received their initial qualifications during this training.

"Learning the procedures and communicating is key to mission success. It takes knowledge, practice and then even more practice to become proficient.” 

 The MARSOC Marines jumped from 10,000 feet and landed in a small, unfamiliar drop zone. According to Marsh, a native of Overland Park, Kan. , It is a rare opportunity for crew chiefs to conduct this type of training.

The crew chiefs control the pace of the mission, said Marsh. They set up and retrieve the static-line between each group of jumpers and also ensure all jumpers exit the aircraft within a safe window.

“Part of the job is watching over and taking care our own,” said Marsh. “When Marines hit the ground, they need to be flexible and maintain an operational mindset. The job of the crew members aboard the aircraft is ensuring they hit the ground safely.”