NEAR THE SYRIAN BORDER, Iraq -- The Marines watch impatiently as a KC-130J Hercules flies to the target area and six pallets come falling down in its wake. The parachutes open and the cargo slowly descends to the ground. The Marines run out to detach the parachutes and load the palettes onto a flatbed truck - mission accomplished.
The Marines of the 1st Air Delivery Platoon, Combat Logistics Company 117, Combat Logistics Battalion 7, Combat Logistics Regiment 1, 1st Marine Logistics Group, successfully delivered about 800 cases of Halal meals to Iraqi border patrol forces along the Syrian border April 12.
"This is the first joint airdrop conducted with any Iraqi forces," said Staff Sgt. Tammy A. Belleville, paraloft chief, 1st Air Delivery Platoon. "Working with the Iraqi forces is great. We are not just helping the border patrol, this is part of a bigger picture, which is to help the Iraqi people and the country get to a place where they can support themselves."
Air delivery is a great way to deliver needed supplies to forward operating bases and other isolated locations.
"Air delivery is faster than conventional convoys," said Gunnery Sgt. Lorrin K. Bush, combat service support chief, 1st Air Delivery Platoon. "It takes a lot of planning to put together a convoy. It could take up to a month or more to get a convoy to deliver supplies to a FOB. While with air delivery, if we have the supplies on hand, we can get it out within days. Also, for a convoy to drive to some of the outlying FOB's, it could take six hours or more, whereas a KC-130J can get there in around 40 minutes."
According to Cpl. Michael S. Sinicrope, parachute rigger, 1st Air Delivery Platoon, using air delivery to resupply FOB's is not only quicker, but it is also safer.
"Convoys are the most dangerous mode of transportation out here," said Sinicrope, a native of Roxbury, N.J. "Convoys attract a lot of attention. It's hard to hide 12 armored vehicles, and because of that, it makes them likely targets for both (improvised explosive devices) and (indirect fire). Air delivery has a low visibility. There are no convoys and no one knows we are there. We are in and out in a couple of hours."
"The way I feel is every air drop is pretty important because we are keeping vehicles off the road," said Cpl. Pedro Perez, air delivery specialist, 1st Air Delivery Platoon. "We'd rather lose a parachute than lose someone to an (improvised explosive device)."
Air delivery also makes it easier to supply units whose location needs to remain hidden.
"We have the ability to deliver supplies, whether we are dropping food and water or vehicles, to any unit without giving the unit's location away," said Bush, a native of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. "Convoys can't go everywhere. They are limited in the number of areas they can access. Aircraft don't have that problem, as they can go anywhere and drop just about anything."
According to Sinicrope, it is merely a matter of protecting his fellow Marines.
"Air delivery is just simply safer," said Sinicrope. "We just want to get the trucks off of the road. We want to keep the Marines safe."