MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
The CH-53E “Super Stallion’s” size and operating range enables aircrew to bring dozens of Marines to remote combat zones, even when they prove unfit for landing and require troops to leap from thousands of feet.
Marines with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force, helped more than 24 reconnaissance Marines and corpsmen conduct parachute operations training aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, here Dec. 2.
“This type of insertion would happen in a raid to an area where we couldn’t put our CH-53E in the zone,” said Capt. Wes Matthews, a pilot with the squadron known as the “Flying Tigers.” “During this training we need to keep our bird steady and monitor our speed. If we fly too fast, the line of parachuting Marines will be spread out too far in the zone. You want to keep the Marines grouped close together.”
The Marines from 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I MEF, donned SF-10 parachutes and helmets to jump from more than 2,500 feet. The recon Marines slowly descended and worked to land close together after jumping from the Super Stallion.
“It was awesome jumping from the helicopter,” said Lance Cpl. Alex S. Hale, a reconnaissance Marine with the battalion. “I like it because it’s a straight fall from the helicopter. There’s no wind whipping you around after you jump, like with a C-130.”
Marines attached releases to a static line connected to the Super Stallion’s deck to safely deploy their parachutes, while jump masters and crew chiefs prepared the groups for jumping.
The crew chief and aerial observer onboard kept keen eyes on the sky to ensure safe training.
“We were operating close to the air station here so we had to make sure there wasn’t any other traffic that could endanger us or the recon Marines,” said Cpl. Evan R. Shelton, a crew chief with the Flying Tigers. “After they jump, we make sure they reach the ground safely and monitor where they are drifting to the ground.”
After the Marines finished jumping, 10 of the Marines geared up with multi-mission parachutes, similar to those used by civilian skydivers. These experienced jumpers leaped from 10,000 feet.
“The Super Stallion is well suited for our operations,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Brian R. Yarolem, battalion operations chief with the battalion. “Parachute operations are one of our mission essential tasks. With our last deployment in Iraq we did more than 1,000 jumps with the Super Stallion being one of our platforms.”
When these Marines deploy in the future, the training supported by the Flying Tigers here will help them one day drop into the fight, whether it be rocky mountains in Afghanistan, vast deserts in Iraq or the next unknown battlefront.