Photo Information

Marines with Company B, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, conducted proficiency jump training Aug. 6, 2014 aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, in preparation to deploy with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, I MEF. The Marines conducted static line jumps and several free fall jumps throughout the day.

Photo by Lance Cpl. John Baker

1st Recon lets gravity do the work

12 Aug 2014 | Lance Cpl. Seth Starr

Marines with Company B, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force recently conducted proficiency jump training aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Aug. 6, 2014, in preparation for deployment with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

The Marines that participated in training took part in both free fall and static line parachute jumps after receiving classroom instruction on safety procedures.

Corporal Evan Hardwick a parachute rigger with the battalion said that conducting training operations that include free fall parachutes can sometimes be a risky business for the Marines jumping.

“With all the combat gear on, it can be hard to find the knobs to pull that deploy the main parachute.” said Hardwick, “These guys are very professional and it’s something they’ve done many times in training so they’re all very familiar with it.”

Training consisted of day and night-time jumps.  The Marines loaded into a MV-22 Osprey and rode to a towering 10,000 feet before exiting the aircraft over the drop zone.

Sergeant Jeffrey Marstaeller, a reconnaissance man with Company B, said that the ability to drop out of aircraft at high altitudes is just another tool in his tool kit.

“It’s not as intimidating as you’d think.  Taking a step out the door like that is really just a part of what we all do at this point,” said Marstaeller. “It takes focus not just on what I have to do in the moment but also on the man that jumps before me.”

On the decent, the Marines took account of one another and followed the first man while watching for hand and arm signals for the right moment to deploy their chutes.

Hardwick said that stability on the fall while conducting free fall jumps is always his biggest challenge.  

“Each guy has difficulties with their own jump,” Hardwick explained.   “For me, staying stable while reaching for my release on the chute is tough. With more training like this I’ll be able to better my skill set when it comes to free fall and self-set drogue jumps.”

When the two, six-man teams each glided to a halt on the drop zone, landing no more than 40-meters from each other, they quickly secured their canopies and geared up with another parachute waiting to be flown up again.   

“The continuous training doesn’t just get me comfortable with a jump,” said Marstaellar.  “It makes me better as a recon Marine.”