News: Raging Bulls take to the sky
Story by Cpl. Martin Egnash
JACKSONVILLE, N.C. - Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 261 Marines departed from Marine Corps Air Station New River to conduct parachute operations, July 25.
The flight took off from the air station to an air field where the six-man crew picked up the Marines as well as the gear outfitted with a parachute to be dropped from the back of the aircraft.
“The mission is to fly and conduct parachute operations, dropping the Marines from 5,000 feet, and traveling at a speed of 125 knots (144 miles per hour),” said Capt. Kellen Mollahan, VMM-261 Osprey pilot.
In two groups of four, the Marines boarded the aircraft along with two jump masters who were to observe the Marines jumping.
Staff Sgt. Paul Konicki, air delivery specialist, as well as one of the jump masters of the flight, gave the Marines hand-and-arm signals, relayed information, and double checked the Marines’ gear before allowing them to jump thousands of feet above the ground.
“Inserting troops via ParaOps enhances combat effectiveness because we can quickly mass troops in distant locations on the battlefield,” said Mollahan. “This removes the requirement for an aircraft to land and allows us to transport Marines to locations where landing may not be an option.”
There were a few obstacles for the parachuting Marines to maneuver.
“The landing area is surrounded by 130-foot trees,” said Kellen during the brief.
During one Marine’s descent, a shifting wind took him into the tall trees, where the Marine used his training to free himself and climb down from the tree without harm. Once regrouping with the other jumpers, the Marine immediately asked his veteran jumpers what he could have done differently.
After the last group of jumpers made their way to ground, the air crew went back to the air station, having finished the mission successfully.
“The flight went really well,” said Mollahan. “Being able to train with the Marines that you may one day carry into combat is not only rewarding but also enhances our quality of training.”