MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Students with various units including 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion and 2nd Transportation Support Battalion participated in a jump master course from March 2-19, 2015, at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
The students in the course completed the basic airborne course, typically taught at Fort Benning, Georgia. During this course, students are required to complete at least five jumps ranging from no load to carrying a combat load, according to baseops.net. One night jump is also a requirement to complete the basic course.
After mastering the basics of jumping out of an aircraft, some students decided to take their knowledge of airborne operations a step further by taking a static-line jump master course, where they learned what it takes to plan an operation.
“Being a jumpmaster enables you to plan an airborne operation from start to finish,” said Sgt. 1st Class Nicholas Oherron, a tower committee chief with the United States Army Advance Airborne School and a native of Middletown, New Jersey. “No longer are you someone who just puts on a parachute and jumps out of the aircraft; you’re now involved in the planning operations.”
The United States military has performed airborne operations in recent years, including the 75th Ranger Regiment’s parachute assault into Afghanistan in October of 2001, which commenced U.S. ground combat operations in the Global War on Terrorism, and a jump by 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division into Iraq in July 2004, according to globalsecurity.org.
The Marine Corps requires reconnaissance Marines to earn their jump wings, which indicates that they know how to jump out of an aircraft and properly employ their own parachute.
“Jumping is something we practice quite a bit to maintain proficiency, but it’s also a very realistic insert capability that we have that separates reconnaissance Marines from the other infantry units,” said Gunnery Sgt. Derek Pflugradt, a platoon sergeant with 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, and a native of Gower, Missouri.
Given the real possibility of using airborne operations to insert troops or supplies, instructors of the jumpmaster course harp on the students’ responsibility for not only their individual safety, but also the safety of others.
“I’m taking the jumpmaster course so I can learn how to safely employ the jumpers in my platoon and on my team,” Pflugradt said. “The instructors are very adamant about attention to detail because lives are at stake.”
Army instructors came to Camp Lejeune to teach Marines everything they need to know about being a jumpmaster, including how to perform personnel inspections, how to react to certain malfunctions, and how to jump with several types of equipment. Marines responded positively to working with the Army during the course.
“It’s good that we’re getting to work with the Army and do inter-service work because it allows us to identify how other people do things and to see if there are ways we could be doing things better,” Pflugradt said. “There’s a reason we’re working with the Army; they do static line operations very well.”