“Thirty seconds!” yells the jump master in the green glow of the helicopter’s bay. A line of Marines donning parachutes repeat the call in unison, muffled under the screeching jet engines. The jump master has ahold of the Marine in front. The Marine is nervous. His palms are sweating, but his mind is clear with the anticipation of the jump master’s single command. That word comes. “Go!” exclaims the jump master, and the Marine steps into the dark void below.
Twelve Marines with 1st Air Delivery Platoon, Landing Support Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 17, 1st Marine Logistics Group, conducted static-line parachute operations from CH-46 Sea Knights aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., Dec. 12, 2013.
The day and night jumps the Marines performed were part of a joint training operation with 3rd Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company and 1st Marine Special Operations Brigade to sustain their qualifications and transition to a new parachute system.
“The purpose of today’s training is to maintain the proficiency of Marines who already transitioned to the MC-7 parachute system,” said Sgt. Mark D. Ellis, operations chief, 1st Air Delivery Platoon, LS Co., CLR-17, 1st MLG. “However, we do have some Marines who have not transitioned, and that’s what we will also be doing today.”
The transitioning Marines conducted day jumps without a combat load to gain confidence in the application of the new parachute system. The more experienced Marines completed their jumps at night with combat loads.
“Today will be my first jump in the fleet and out of a rotary aircraft,” said Lance Cpl. Dustin Tyler, parachute rigger, 1st Air Delivery Platoon, LS Co., CLR-17, 1st MLG. “I’m used to C-130 door jumps, and today is going to be my first ramp jump from 2,000 feet. I’m really excited about it,” added the Fox Lake, Ill., native.
Although parachute riggers are responsible for the maintenance of equipment for airborne operations, they also play an essential role in delivering supplies and equipment to forward-operating troops.
“1st Air Delivery Platoon’s mission is essentially to provide logistical support to units on the ground that need supplies,” said Ellis, a native of Jacksonville, Fla. “In a combat environment, air delivery is practical and safer.”
Air-delivered supplies can be sent virtually anywhere in a timely manner and without the hazards or logistical constraints of a convoy.
Before the operation began, the platoon went through a series of pre-jump routines. The Marines conducted thorough inspections of their parachutes and gear and, in a mock aircraft, practiced hand-and-arm signals and landing drills.
The parachutes use a static line that deploys the system after they step off the aircraft. While in the air, the Marines are able to steer and control their descent to land safely. Thus, confidence in their individually packed parachutes is put to the test.
As the stars began to show, the last stick of Marines jumped from the aircraft. Only their glow-sticks were visible over the horizon. Light or dark, the Marines refreshed their skills, learned to use a new parachute system and successfully met their qualifications.