News: Recon Marines sharpen airborne skills
Story by Cpl. Joseph Scanlan
FORT HARRISON, Mont. – Jumping from the back of a C-130 aircraft from 1,300 feet above ground, Marines serving with 1st and 4th Reconnaissance battalions conducted day and night static jumps here, June 22.
“Being a reconnaissance Marine, you have to be able to operate behind enemy lines, and that sometimes requires you to insert into an area by air,” said Staff Sgt. Thomas Maloney, a platoon sergeant serving with Bravo Company, 1st Recon Bn. “This sort of training ensures the Marines are able to maintain, control and operate their equipment while inserting by parachute with a combat load.”
As part of 4th Recon Battalion’s annual training, 1st Recon Bn. was invited to train with the reserve Marines to bring an active duty perspective to the training.
“A lot of times we have found ourselves in Iraq or Afghanistan with a reserve unit at forward operating bases, and when it came time to turn over our area to the unit, it would have been a lot smoother if we could have had prior training with one another,” said Maloney, a native of Schaumburg, Ill. “Training out here in Montana is a fantastic opportunity for both 1st Recon and 4th Recon Battalion to see how each other operates.”
In addition to keeping their jump qualifications current, many of the Marines came one step closer to earning the Navy and Marine Corps Parachutist insignia after the day and night jumps.
To earn the insignia, a Marine or sailor who has already completed the Basic Airborne course must complete a minimum of five static line jumps, including one combat equipment day jump, two combat equipment night jumps and one jump from at least two different types of military aircraft.
“Today I completed my 16th jump,” said Cpl. Michael Dorthalina, an assistant team leader serving with 1st Recon Bn. “It’s not only very important for the new Marines to complete jumps and become comfortable inserting to an area by air, but it’s also important for Marines like myself who have done it for a while because it is a perishable skill.”
Due to the high risks associated with parachuting, Marines spend hours prior to a jump receiving safety briefs, preparing their gear and checking their peers’ gear to ensure safety is paramount.
“During training like this, you really put your life in your brother’s hands because when you are suiting up, you can’t personally inspect every piece of your harness and parachute,” said Dorthalina, a native of Spokane, Wash. “It’s up to yourself, your buddy and a jump master to check over your gear, and that’s it.”
After completing the static jumps in highly variable weather at Fort Harrison, the Marines proved one thing, Maloney said.
“This is a venue out here in Fort Harrison that we rarely train in,” Maloney said. “It just goes to show that just like the Marines Hymn says, we do operate in every clime and place and we do it well.”