AL ASAD, Iraq --
Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 352 Detachment A, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) supported a training evolution here July 3 for the Okinawa-based reconnaissancemen of 2nd platoon, Echo Company, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 1.
The Marines of the reconnaissance battalion took to the sky aboard 352’s KC-130J cargo and tanker aircraft to participate in a static-line day jump and combat jump.
The reconnaissance battalion rotates their Marines through al-Asad to take advantage of the unique training opportunity available due to the location of the air base and the support of 3rd MAW’s (Fwd.) squadrons. The static line and combat-jump training ensures the Marines of the battalion maintain their certifications and familiarity with various methods of getting from the sky to the ground in a combat zone.
“This is a method of insertion,” said Gunnery Sgt. Tim Parkhurst, paraloft chief with 3rd Recon. “We want this to be comfortable for them so it becomes second nature so they can put all their effort and all their thoughts into the mission at hand.”
The Marines of the KC-130J squadron, nicknamed “The Raiders” must modify their aircraft prior to supporting these types of training exercise. As the KC-130J is most commonly used for aerial refueling, cargo and troop support, crewmembers must add gear and reconfigure rigging to ensure the safety of jumpers and the success of the training.
The biggest adjustment, according to Cpl. John Carroll, a loadmaster with the squadron is the addition of static lines and retriever cables. The loadmasters work the adjustments into their preflight preparation. The conversion from aerial refueling, cargo and troop transport to a rig ideal for skyborne insertion methods takes anywhere from ten minutes to an hour depending on the type of jumps the Marines will practice. The time and effort does not go unappreciated by the Marines who rely on the squadron to take them into a combat zone.
“These guys are phenomenal,” said Parkhurst. “Everything they have done for us, they have gone way above and beyond and were extremely flexible when issues would arise unexpectedly.”
This training evolution illustrates how Marine Corps ground and aviation elements work together to “become stronger as an elite fighting force,” said Carroll.