MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – “You’re falling to the Earth, to your death, unless you do something about it,” said Senior Chief Anthony Schudel, the Master Diver for 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division. “There are a lot of things beyond your control that can go wrong with parachuting.”
Jumping out of a perfectly good aircraft seems like a crazy idea to most, but for the Marines and sailors of 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, it’s just another Wednesday.
“This is a skill you have to keep at or it’s vitally lost,” said Schudel, a veteran of 541 jumps. “It’s a critical skill, but once you’re back in the aircraft it all kind of comes back to you.”
In order to stay proficient as a top tier reconnaissance unit, Marines with the battalion must consistently sharpen their skills or risk losing them. While many of the service members jumped as part of a low-level static line jump, several of the more experienced jumpers took to the clouds for a free-fall jump from 10,000 feet.
“We would like to get everybody to that military free-fall capability because you can’t hear the aircraft at that altitude; you can’t hear the Marines open their chutes at that altitude. We would like to get everyone to that level. Jumping, diving, or fast-roping, it’s just a means to get to the mission,” said Lt. Col. Robert Revoir, the commanding officer of 2nd Recon. “Our primary mission is ground reconnaissance, battlefield shaping and amphibious reconnaissance. Most of those require a clandestine insertion. (Jumping) is a clandestine insertion capability.”
Physically, the Marines must endure the weight of the equipment on their back, the force that terminal velocity - approximately 122 miles-per-hour for a skydiver in the belly-to-earth position, takes on their frame as well as be able to carry their parachute back to their starting position. Mentally, the service members must overcome the sheer terror of jumping out of a helicopter and be able to improvise in case any unforeseen emergency happens during their flight back to Earth. Luckily the Marines of 2nd Recon are headstrong, determined, and can’t wait for their next jump.
“Standing on the edge of the ramp in a fast moving aircraft, looking down, you can see all the landscape and the ocean – the wind is howling and you know you are going to get ready to start flying through the air, it’s pretty exhilarating,” said Schudel. “For these guys this is typically a no fail mission, failure is not an option for a lot of the things that they do, so this is why we come out and do sustainment jumps, so that they can keep driving on.”