News: 31st MEU, Thai Reconaissance Marines free-fall for fellowship
Story by Lance Cpl. Codey Underwood
UTAPHAO AIR BASE, Thailand - Soaring over the tree tops and strapped tight inside a C-130 Hercules airplane, U.S. and Royal Thai Marines double check the straps on their parachutes. Taking one step at a time, the bilateral force of reconnaissance Marines inch toward the open ramp, anticipating the go-ahead to leap from the safety of the plane.
Marines and Sailors with the Amphibious Reconnaissance Platoon, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducted parachute jumps alongside Long Range Reconnaissance Royal Thai Marines here, Feb 19.
"It's very important for us to conduct training operations with the Thai recon Marines,” said the platoon sergeant with ARP, 31st MEU, “In the event that we're ever fortunate enough to have to do a real world operation in this area of the world, it's not the first time we've experienced each other's standard operating procedures. We can work more cohesively together to accomplish a joint mission."
The bilateral force conducted static line jumps and free fall jumps to improve their combined proficiency in aerial insertion.
The static-line jump calls for sticks of four to six jumpers. Hooked to the inside of the plane, each jumper’s line automatically pulls open upon leaving the aircraft. Exiting at just over 1,200 feet above the ground, the jumper only has a few minutes until landing on the surface.
Free-fall jumping is conducted at approximately 4,500 feet, where the Marines would descend several thousands of feet before pulling the cord manually and deploying the parachute. This kind of jump allows the C-130 to fly much higher, giving the mission a much more covert insertion.
“It is always great getting to work alongside the U.S. Recon Marines here during Cobra Gold,” said Lance Cpl. Poe Kittinan Kanthophancu, a recon Marine with 1st Long Range Reconnaissance Platoon, Royal Thai Marine Corps. "We have been able to trade the techniques that make each of us a great fighting force.”
Thailand and the United States are committed to working together in areas of common interest for the stabilization of regional security.
The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.