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A Marine dives from the back of a Lockheed C-130 Hercules to land at a pre-determined landing zone at Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field Bouge, N.C., Feb. 23, 2017. The Marine conducted high-altitude free fall jumps as part of their yearly training for combat parachute operations. The Marine is with 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Miranda Faughn)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Miranda Faughn

Leap of faith

28 Feb 2017 | Lance Cpl. Miranda Faughn 2nd Marine Division

Cruising at 10,000 feet above the ground, Marines gaze down at Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field Bouge, North Carolina, Feb. 23, 2017.
Marines with 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion are capable of numerous insertion techniques, but air insertion is considered one of their most effective. The unit’s purpose is to provide ground and amphibious reconnaissance and surveillance in support of 2nd Marine Division. Although this was annual sustainment training and nothing unique for a Recon Marine, it reassures the Marines that when the time comes, they will be swift, silent and deadly.
“You never know where you are going to fight or how you are going get there, so you have to be ready for whatever is coming,” said Capt. Andrew Pappas, a platoon commander with 2nd Recon.
Junior Marines and their experienced leaders conduct their annual jumps together to share their knowledge from prior deployments and real-world experiences.
The Marines need both the guidance and leadership of the more experienced jumpers or the training is near ineffective, Pappas added.
“Jumping is a high risk activity, so doing this training together helps build trust in your fellow Marine,” said Gunnery Sgt. Patrick Keeling a jumpmaster and platoon sergeant with 2nd Recon. “If you can trust a jumpmaster to guide you from an aircraft, you can trust him in combat.”
Actively training, maintaining and improving their skills in the air builds confidence in the individual’s skill and in the Marines as a team. This sustainment training keeps the Marines ready for any situation and highlights their capabilities for the rest of the Marine Corps to see.
“During this training Col. Watson [Col. Benjamin T. Watson, assistant division commander, 2nd Marine Division] was able to jump tandem,” said Keeling. “It wasn’t just for him to have a good time, it’s also so he can bring this back to show other commanders that these Marines are ready at a moment’s notice.”
This training prepares the Marines for global response and makes them an asset for not only 2nd Marine Division but II Marine Expeditionary Forces as a whole.

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