HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan --
Marines from Air Delivery Platoon, Headquarters and Service Company, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward) completed a series of air drops to the Marines of 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division (Forward), Jan. 6.
The Air Delivery Platoon provides supplies to Marines anywhere in Helmand province.
“Air drops are beneficial due to the fact that it keeps Marines, sailors, soldiers and other coalition forces off the roads and away from harm,” said Sgt. Mark D. Ellis, air delivery specialist, Air Delivery Platoon, H&S Company, 1st MLG (FWD). “It is also faster. While convoys generally require about a week to plan and gather supplies, an air drop can be done the same day. We can provide immediate aerial delivery of items such as ammunition to a hot zone in a matter of hours after receiving the request and supplies.”
Using aircraft to deliver supplies has an extreme advantage over combat logistics patrols because the threat from improvised explosive devices remains high for troops on the ground.
“It’s good to know you are supporting the troops,” said Lance Cpl. Jose J. Alvarez, parachute rigger, Air Delivery Platoon. “You are helping them by taking convoys off the road, and that way they can’t be hit by IED's.”
A lot of work goes into making sure each parachute is completely operational and will open correctly.
“We have three to four people packing a parachute,” said Cpl. Waco S. Holveburk, parachute rigger, Air Delivery Platoon, “and we have one person watching and making sure every proper precaution is taken.”
The parachute riggers put a lot of time into quality control to ensure each bundle of supplies lands safely.
“It’s what we train for month after month back in Pendleton,” said Ellis, 27, from Jacksonville, Fla. “We are constantly doing training missions with 1st Marine Division and its subordinate commands to ensure we are effective, proficient and accurate.”
Building an air drop takes a lot of preparation. Although it only spends a few short hours, even minutes, being flown, the delivery is complex, meaning that everything needs to be rigged well in advance.
“Each drop is different, depending on what it is we are dropping,” Ellis said. “If it’s just [food and water], we can have 28 Container Delivery Systems rigged in about three days. This time frame includes building the CDS, packing the parachutes, and attaching the parachutes and inspecting them for airdrop.”
The parachute riggers enjoy building things bundle that are delivered by air, because they know after their cargo hits the ground it will be put to good use by their fellow service members throughout Helmand province.
It is important so Marines can get their supplies and concentrate on their mission,” said Alvarez, 21, from Santa Maria, Calif.