CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, Japan -- After unfastening his safety belt, a Marine double checks his gear and dog’s harness. He stands up and waits for the Helicopter Rope Suspension Techniques master to allow him to grab the rope. Taking a deep breath, the Marine looks down at his dog, grabs onto the rope and, without hesitation, jumps.
U.S. Marine military working dog handlers with 3rd Law Enforcement Battalion fast-roped with their dogs from MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircrafts Oct. 27 at Camp Hansen.
Though they previously fast-roped with their dogs from a rappel tower, fast-roping out of the Ospreys for the first time presented a different challenge for the handlers.
“It was completely different than fast-roping from tower,” said Cpl. Nicholas Majerus, a working dog handler with 3rd LE Bn., III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, III MEF. “The rotor wash was pulling the rope around, and even with the two anchors it was still moving. It wasn’t just hanging like it was with the tower, so it was a big difference.”
In addition to the usual challenges presented by fast-roping from an aircraft, the handlers had the unique challenge of ensuring the safety and careful control of their dogs as well.
“The only thing that was challenging for me was ensuring that everything was properly secured for me and [my military working dog] Dixie,” said Cpl. Caleb Owens, a working dog handler with 3rd LE Bn. “My main concern is her safety, so I had to ensure everything was clear for me and her to jump.”
Now that the dog teams have executed fast-roping out of an aircraft, the battalion will be able to use this new skill more often.
“The main reason for having the handlers and dogs fast-rope is because we are planning a tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel mission,” said 1st Lt. Christina Nymeyer, a platoon commander for 3rd LE Bn. “Part of the mission is to locating the downed aircrew with a combat tracking dog. To do this, we will need to insert with the dogs, and this training gives us that capability.”
After successfully completing the training, the handlers felt an even stronger bond with their dogs, according to Cpl. Nicholas Majerus, a working dog handler with 3rd Law Enforcement Battalion.
“I think our bond has gotten a lot stronger,” said Majerus, from Mazeppa, Minnesota. “I’ve been with [Iggi] for a long time, so she trusts me with everything, and she knows I would never put her in any kind of danger.”