CAMP LEJEUNE, NC — Hanging high in the cloudless sky the sun shines brightly as a UH-1Y Huey takes to the air. Within moments the chopper reaches an altitude of 1500 feet and the Marines on board get the ready command. The jump master yells, “Go!” and with a solid tap on the shoulder the Marines jump one-by-one.
This was the scene as Marines with 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, took part in the airborne jump sustainment training held aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Dec. 16.
The jump was part of a quarterly training regimen for the airborne qualified Marines of 2nd Recon. In order to continue to be qualified, the Marines must parachute every quarter to stay current as a jumper and to maintain performance and proficiency.
“Obviously parachuting in a reconnaissance battalion is used as a means of insertion, and is a huge part of getting the Marines on the ground in order to conduct their mission,” said Staff Sgt. Jerry Fortenberry, platoon sergeant, paraloft platoon, Headquarters and Service Company, 2nd Recon Bn.
Prior to the day of the jump the Marines receive classes on safety precautions and how to handle emergency situations. The Marines also go through a practical application portion in which they act out what they might do if certain situations were to occur, such as emergencies and how to properly deploy their reserve parachute.
“Before the Marines can actually go up in the helicopter and jump, they go through all of the motions of a live jump, from start to finish, while on the ground,” said Fortenberry.
During the application portion of the training the Marines even use a mock UH-1Y Huey, which is the actual helicopter they used during the training.
“This is high risk training, it’s not like going to the rifle range once a year, this is something that needs to be done pretty often,” said Fortenberry. “In order to be a proficient jumper we try and jump at least twice a month at a minimum.”
Throughout the training, groups of eight Marines would board the helicopter handing off their static line to the Jump Master to be “hooked in”. Once reaching the appointed drop zone the Marines would exit from the helicopter at which time their parachute would quickly be pulled for them by the force of their exiting the helicopter
“This has been a good opportunity to further their training and work on their grouping, landings and assembling on a drop zone,” said Master Sgt. Kenneth Urquhart, battalion training chief, H&S Co., 2nd Recon Bn. “Some of the Marines are less experienced, but everyone has done pretty good throughout the training.”