CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Marines with 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion take a deep breath before diving out of a CH-53E Super Stallion and into the ocean waters of Onslow Beach at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Oct. 20, 2016. These Marines practiced the daunting task of conducting helocasting both with and without the help of a boat to help them back to shore.
Although it is not considered annual training, recon Marines conducts helocasting exercises almost every month to maintain their readiness and to ensure new Marines in their unit, along with more experienced Marines, get the chance to work side by side, to become more cohesive.
During the helocasting, the Marines trained in detaching a zodiac boat from inside a CH-53E, jumping in succession after it and then working as a team to get into the zodiac and bring it ashore. During one run of the exercise they swam back to shore as part of a scout swimmer fin insertion.
Marines are also required to know hand-and-arm signals for flying in an aircraft before each jump. This enables them to communicate how much time until they jump and at what point they need to stand and prepare themselves to take the dive, instead of shouting over the aircraft engine.
“My favorite part is right before the jump, you see the zodiac get dropped you see the guys jumping out and then its [you]” said Lance Cpl. Joseph Folsom, a reconnaissanceman with 2nd Recon.
Each rotation that is inserted has Marines doing this exercise for the first time with a boat but has Staff Non-commissioned officers so everyone can work together, Folsom added.
“Marines get the initial familiarization, and then later build on,” said MSgt. Robert Wolf, Force Company Recon operations chief, “doing more advanced techniques, at night, with fully loaded boats. The vital end state is using this as a viable insertion means.”
While being only one of the many insertion methods recon is able to perform, maintaining the skill of dropping Marines in water keeps in line with the amphibious roots of the Marine Corps and gives more capabilities and options to commanders to complete their operations.