CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- A Marine hurtles toward the Earth with his life hanging in the balance for the next four to six seconds. The wind is screaming past his ears and rushing against his cheeks while the ground below gets closer by the second, he feels the sudden jerk pulling him back into the sky, slowing his speed, while he slowly drifts to the ground below where the quick impact will only re-affirm he is alive and safe.
Marines with 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division performed multiple parachute training exercises, Jan. 27-29, 2015, at Training Landing Zone Pheasant, on Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field Bogue.
The Marines performed low level static line jumps at 1,500 feet from a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter and a KC-130J Hercules aircraft, with and without combat loads. The Marines also performed High Altitude Low Opening free-fall jumps at 10,000 feet from a CH-47 Chinook Helicopter.
The training had a dual purpose for the battalion—update the Marines on their biannual jump qualification and increase their proficiency in parachuting.
“Parachuting is one of our mission essential tasks,” said Capt. Thomas Wallin, the company commander of Company A, 2nd Reconnaissance Bn. “When using jump insertion methods, we can successfully insert into a landing zone, recon an area, and get important and timely information back to follow-on forces to help them complete their mission. Conducting training like this allows for us to be a beneficial force.”
During the training, the Marines with more parachuting experience jumped with military packs weighing about 80-90 pounds. Other Marines jumped in tandem, one with a person strapped to his chest and the other with a 500-pound barrel attached to him.
Jumping tandem with personnel or military equipment is essential to mission success, According to Wallin.
“We can use this training to begin more difficult training,” said Wallin. “The more difficult training incorporates going into a landing zone as a whole team or a platoon with added friction in the process upon landing. The training make's sure they can land on a drop zone correctly and become tactical once everyone has landed safely.”
For the battalion, this type of training is an introduction to parachuting and is an accurate representation of real-world missions conducted by reconnaissance units.
The training prepared the Marines for being evaluated on the different types of parachute jumps. The battalion must pass an evaluation in order to use parachuting as an insertion method, if needed, while deployed, according to Wallin.
For some of the Marines, this was their first time jumping with the battalion. Fifteen reconnaissance Marines recently graduated from the Army Airborne School and had to familiarize themselves with the type of parachute used by the Marine Corps and the insertion methods used by the battalion.
“The training was overall a success,” said Staff Sgt. George Gordon, a parachute rigger with 2nd Reconnaissance Bn. “The new Marines were able to familiarize themselves with the parachutes used by the Marine Corps and the Marines with experience were able to work on the things they needed to focus on.”