HRST graduates tackle SOTG tower

10 Jun 2005 | Sgt. Tracee L. Jackson

A training exercise sponsored by the Special Operations Training Group brought Marines from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit together June 10 to reiterate basic rappelling techniques as part of the Helicopter Rappel Suspension Techniques course. The evolution was one of the last in a two-week course covering fast roping, Special Patrol Insertion Extraction and rappelling off of the SOTG tower with aim to qualify all 19 students as “HRST masters.”

Sgt. Edward L. Jacobs, an instructor for the course, explained this basic drill was conducted in order to familiarize Marines with the intricacies of loops, knots, pulleys and a few carabineers.

“This training has to do with helping these guys get into in-depth rappel operations,” said Jacobs, “We make sure they’re locked and do things correctly.”

When the Marines go back to the fleet, they will be qualified to lead rappelling, fast rope and SPIE operations in their units.

Throughout the course, Marines learn to tie 12 different knots and how to rig rappelling equipment on various types of helicopters.

“Tying knots is all about muscle memory. Any time you try to change the way you do it or do it in a different fashion, it’s a little weird,” said Staff Sgt. Chris McCallister, a student of the course. “A lot of these guys have never used this type of equipment before, so it’s an extra piece of gear they can use now.”

According to McCallister, the training teaches them new things, while it instills faith in the things they have learned.

Cpl. James T. Mulak took part in the course and got to test the stability of his knot first-hand. As he was half way down the tower, one of the HRST instructors told him to stop and perform 10 inverted push-ups while dangling on the wall. Mulak noted that tying the knot wasn’t difficult, but the physical training on the ropes was somewhat difficult.

“I have to PT more,” said Mulak, who then stated the exercise gave him confidence that the knots he ties will hold him where he needs to be, regardless of activity.

A day in the trees spent tying knots, inspecting security equipment and rappelling sounds like an afternoon with the Boy Scouts. However, according to Jacobs, with this training, the Marines can truly get to any “clime and place” – even if their aircraft can not.

Editor’s Note: This is part three of a three-part series.