MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C.-- -- Marines with 2nd Radio Battalion, B Company, in combination with 2nd Air Delivery Platoon, took part in their first jump in more than a year at drop zone Condor here Nov. 1.
Approximately 30 Marines visited DZ Condor, but only about half had the opportunity to step off the back of a CH-53 D helicopter on a day when the wind was varying and the sun hid behind a dense sheet of clouds.
Sgt. Brandon A. Andrews, paraloft chief, 2nd Radio Battalion, Bravo Company, explained how drills keep the Marine Corps’ jumpers proficient.
“All jump qualified Marines should get at least one jump a quarter,” he said. Although this was their first jump as a battalion since March of 2004, the Marines have opportunities and are encouraged to jump with other units. “However, with many aircraft deployed, jumping is few and far between these days.”
The day started at 8:00 am with the jumpmasters keen to give pre-jump briefs, which included the weather conditions, DZ boundaries and obstacles, command signals and gear/equipment requirements.
Prior to the CH-53 landing, Marines checked each other’s gear and planned out the groups, or sticks, that each jumper would be in. The helicopter only took up to four jumpers at a time to make rounds move more quickly.
Each Marine did two jumps at an altitude of 1500 feet. The DZ was somewhat small - 600 feet by 600 feet - and the jumpers had to be aware of the tree line that surrounded the zone and the slight wind coming in from the north.
Before anyone took the plunge, several bright yellow streamers were dropped from the helicopter in effort to mark the point at which Marines would step off.
Once the wind was judged and the jump spot found, sticks began to climb up in a helicopter, which is capable of carrying up to seven tons. The chopper made necessary laps around the DZ. As Marines step off in one-second intervals, gliding effortlessly to the ground, and sometimes, the trees, the crowd watched from below.
“In all, it was a pretty good day. Only one fell in the trees and that was no one’s fault,” said Andrews. “With the wind being hard to judge at 1500 feet and the drop zone being so small, we did a good job.”