Reconnaissance Marines plunge into action for upcoming deployment
CENTRAL TRAINING AREA, OKINAWA, Japan -- Marines shout commands over the roaring motor as they drop a thick rope through the open center of the CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter. Midflight, the Marines charge down the rope, fully equipped for combat, to the ground below with speed and intensity.
Marines with Force Reconnaissance Company, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, executed fast-rope training from a CH-53E June 17 at the Central Training Area near Camp Schwab.
“This training is for us to be prepared for any mission that the 3rd Marine Division sends us on,” said Cpl. Colin Rockwell, a reconnaissance man with Force Recon Company, 3rd Recon Bn., 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “We all have to be prepared and know what to do when certain combat situations arise.”
The recon Marines were assisted by Marines with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, currently assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III MEF, under the unit deployment program.
The training prepares the recon Marines and aircrew to safely and effectively transport troops to a field environment, according to Gunnery Sgt. Bryan K. Cox, a crew chief with the squadron.
“Safety is always paramount,” said Cox, a Louisville, Kentucky, native. “We prepared by pre-flying the aircraft and conducting an in-depth safety brief on the course of action.”
The helicopter took off from Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and flew to the Central Training Area, where the Marines loaded the helicopter with equipment in preparation for the training.
“We did iterations without (equipment),” said Staff Sgt. Timothy Cunningham, a team leader with the battalion. “We ran it eight times in a row, and once we felt comfortable, we put the combat (equipment) on.”
Repetition, whether in the air or using ground based training aids, establishes the muscle memory necessary for Marines to become faster and more efficient, according to Rockwell, a Knoxville, Tennessee, native.
“We have been practicing on a tower that simulates the (helicopter),” said Rockwell. “It gave us an idea of what to expect when we fast-roped in the (helicopter).”
The Marines are preparing for the battalion’s upcoming deployment with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, according to Cunningham, an Albany, New York, native.
“Nobody got hurt and we increased efficiency in the air and ground element,” said Cunningham. “The skills we obtained here are essential for fast, swift movement in a combat environment and ensure safety and surveillance for our men in the air and on the ground.”