CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - “There is nothing normal about jumping out of a perfectly good airplane,” said Sgt. Dustin Thurmond, a reconnaissance Marine with 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division and native of Spotsylvania, Virginia. There may be nothing normal about it, but every month, Marines with 2nd Recon jump out the back of an aircraft at a height of 12,500 feet or more.
Marines with 2nd Recon conducted their monthly airborne military free-fall and double-bag static line jumps aboard Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, March 31 through April 2, 2015.
“This airborne capability is one of the reconnaissance battalion’s mission essential tasks: To conduct a specialized insertion or extraction,” said Capt. Ross Strack, the assistant operations officer with 2nd Recon and native of Red Lion, Pennsylvania. “Part of that is to conduct an airborne insertion and that is what we’re doing out here.”
Teams consisting of six Marines each jumped from the aircraft onto the designated landing zone.
“Once we reach an altitude of about 12,500 feet above ground level, we exit the aircraft and free-fall for about a minute. At about 5,000 feet, we pull the parachute and insert onto the landing zone,” Thurmond said.
Recon Marines are the embodiment of the air, ground and sea expeditionary capability of the Marine Corps. To be ready when the mission comes, Marines must stay current with their training.
“All of this is part of a building block,” Strack said. “Building that experience level so they are ready to deploy.”
Experience is essential for mission readiness, but the confidence in the individual and the team is just as important, according to Thurmond.
“This kind of training builds confidence in the ability to go out and do the job you need to do,” Thurmond said. “This gives the Marines the ability and comfort to go out and jump with six other Marines out of an aircraft at high altitude with very little guidance except for the sergeant running the mission. It really unites you as a team.”