Marines Magazine

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Free Falling

Marine Corps Base Camp LeJeune, N.C. — Marines with Force Reconnaissance Company, II Marine Expeditionary Force fine-tuned their free-falling skills.

The Recon Marines trained to make silent airborne insertions – an absolute necessity for the types of missions they will encounter in future combat missions.

The training exercises consisted of the Marines conducting high-altitude jumps from an MV-22 Osprey. The Marines also practiced dropping supplies, such as “Meal, Ready-to-Eat” cargo from about 300 feet.

“The MRE boxes represent dropping valuable cargo in order to resupply Marines who have been remote for an extended period of time,” said Staff Sgt. Anthony Slate, a platoon sergeant with Force Reconnaissance Company. “It’s nearly impossible for someone to carry food for a month, so eventually they will need to be resupplied.”

The resupply tasks were barely the beginning. Force Reconnaissance Marines must be mission capable of double-bagged static-line jumps and military free-fall jumps.  The Marines in this exercise would be free-falling at heights above 20,000 feet.

The military free-fall type jump allows drops from anywhere above 20,000 to a max jump of 35,000 feet.

“A lot of things go into jumping or free-fall,” added Slate. “If you’re jumping from altitudes abo

ve 10,000 feet, you need to have oxygen tanks, so you can breathe. If you’re above 20,000 feet you need to pre-breathe pure oxygen for about 30 minutes prior.

“You also have to take weather conditions into consideration, like wind speed, clouds and thunderstorms,” he added.

Although the Force Reconnaissance Company Marines are qualified to pack their own parachutes, they were still supervised by parachute riggers – an added measure for safety and security.

While conducting the free fall exercises, the Marines jumped with a combat load consisting of about 35 pounds, not including the weight of their parachutes and rubber training rifles.

With their packs and parachutes strapped to their bodies, the Marines made their way to the Osprey.

While many people would be uneasy with the thought of jumping from an airplane, these Marines accomplished it as if it were an everyday task.

Recon Marines routinely aim for landing zones that are 500 by 700 meters, but depending on the type of parachutes used, some jumpers can land within 100 meters of the target.

Experienced jumpers can land on the target, at night, in an unlit drop zone.

Aside from free-fall and resupply training, Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance Marines make ready for a variety of skills and missions.

They consistently train in patrolling, land navigation, communications, boat work and sniper training.  Recon Marines also perform specialized training ranging from scuba and airborne schools, to weapons training.

Training to be the best; staying swift, silent and deadly – United States Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance.


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