Photo Information

Marines with 1st Air Delivery platoon conducted static line jumping out of a CH-46 Sea Knight aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., June 5, 2014. The Marines conducted two day jumps and two night jumps at around 1,500 feet. Three Marines jumped with full combat gear in order to complete the requirements for their gold wings.

Photo by Lance Cpl Ashton Buckingham

Making jump

13 Jun 2014 | Lance Cpl. Ashton Buckingham

Marines with 1st Air Delivery Platoon, Landing Support Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 15, 1st Marine Logistics Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force conducted static line jumps from CH-46 Sea Knights aboard Camp Pendleton, June 12, 2014.

The Marines conducted two proficiency day jumps and two proficiency night jumps at approximately 1,500 feet. These four jumps allowed the junior Marines to show proficiency in their job while also allowing three of the Marines to complete the necessary requirements for earning their Navy and Marine Corps parachutist insignia, commonly referred to as, “gold wings.”

Marines have to complete several courses that involve multiple styles of parachuting, explained Staff Sgt. Shane Witte, the assistant jump master with 1st Air Delivery Platoon. Executing certain jumps with and without a combat load, during both day and night are part of the requirements for their gold wings. 

The training helped to prepare riggers for future operations and gave them a better grasp of the standards that they will be held to in the future. Executing these jumps helped the riggers become more knowledgeable about their job field and future expectations of themselves.

“I always looked up to the Marines with the gold wings when I was coming up through the ranks,” said Witte.  “Not only for the pride and the history behind it but, you knew that they were experienced and more knowledgeable about their job field than the others.”

Witte said it’s beneficial for riggers to be proficient in their job because they are not only expected to complete jumps but they must also be able to safely and effectively drop re-supplies to friendly units anywhere, at any time.

“It’s important to understand how and why parachutes work during jumps and dropping re-supplies,” said Lance Cpl. Andrew Anderson, a parachute rigger with heavy drop platoon. “Understanding how they are going to drop out of a plane and where they are going to land is a very key part of my job.” 

It’s important for the gold wing riggers to know their jobs inside and out, said Anderson, who recently received his gold wings.

Because of the dangerous nature of their jobs, safety is crucial in everything they do. To ensure safety for all involved, there are many safety precautions that are executed prior to any jump or drop.

Prior to entering the aircraft, all riggers must be inspected twice by jump masters who ensure there are no deficiencies with the parachutes or harness. Once on the aircraft, one more inspection is conducted in flight.

After all safety practices are executed correctly, the only limitation to the commander’s ability to drop experienced Marines and equipment are the capabilities of the aircraft.
“Anything from beans, bullets, band aids, blood,” said Witte. “You name it, we can drop it. Anywhere that is required along with being able to drop a security detail to make sure it arrives safely.”

These re-supply capabilities wouldn’t be possible without the training that the Marines conduct in order to become gold wingers.

“The training we do here is paramount” said Anderson. “You’re jumping out of an aircraft from 1,000 feet or more. Without this kind of training we’re risking injury, if not death.”

At the end of the training the Riggers were one step closer to mastering their field.

“Earning the gold wings is a great accomplishment in our job field,” said Anderson. “It’s the mile marker that shows how much we’ve improved.