MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Marines from 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, practiced parachuting out of the MV-22 Opsrey at Tactical Landing Zone Falcon, here, June 5.
The training allowed Marines to maintain their jump skills, because for them, jumping into enemy territory is just another part of their job.
“They call us the eyes and ears of the Marine Corps,” said Cpl. Christopher Miller, a reconnaissance Marine with 2nd Recon Battalion. “Parachuting allows us to drop behind enemy lines, much closer to our objective. That way we can quickly get information on our enemy to make sure Marines go into combat with the right personnel and equipment.”
Although the Osprey’s tilt-rotor configuration gives the aircraft the ability to get to a landing zone quickly and unload troops like a traditional helicopter, parachuting has the added benefit of being nearly silent.
For a small team of six Marines operating near hostile forces, that extra advantage can enable them to gather sensitive information on the enemy so that Marines can fight smarter than their foes.
Before they load onto the aircraft, a jump master inspects each Marine and their gear from head to toe, because once you jump out of an aircraft at 1,500 feet, there’s no turning back.
It’s a daunting responsibility, and one the Corps doesn’t take lightly. Half of the Marines who attend jump master school are weeded out, because in their line of work - there is no room for error.
After a thorough safety check, the Marines were cleared for a jump. An Osprey made a vertical landing about a hundred feet away and the Marines loaded-up.
The Osprey then performed a vertical take off, and transitioned into horizontal-flight mode for the jump. As it sped over the target zone, the jump master gave the Marines the signal, and they stepped into the open air.
“You try not to think about it,” said Lance Corporal Britt Wadi, a reconnaissance Marine with 2nd Recon Battalion. “I was the first one out, so I just shouted ‘Geronimo’ and made the jump.”
Seconds into their free fall, a cord still attached to the aircraft pulled the rip cord on their parachute, and although they look like their drifting down, they are actually falling between 15 to 20 feet per second.
Safely landing at such speeds while carrying 55 pounds of gear requires Marines to distribute the impact over as much of their body as possible to prevent injury, but with their training everything went smoothly.
As the Marines begin to relax after their jump, a sergeant came up to the group and said “Hey, we’ve got another chance to go. Suit up if you want to jump.”
Suddenly, everything was a bustle of activity, as Marines prepared for another taste of the thrill you get jumping out of a perfectly good plane.