Sunday skydive: Wing Marines send MARSOC soaring into Midwest

II Marine Expeditionary Force
Story by Cpl. Tyler J. Bolken

Date: 10.10.2012
Posted: 10.10.2012 14:58
News ID: 95946
Sunday skydive: Wing Marines send MARSOC soaring into Midwest

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. – Never mind watching football or pulling out the barbecue to finish up the weekend on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Marines with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252 fired up two of the squadron’s KC-130J Hercules transport planes on the Cherry Point flight line Sept. 30 to make a trip to the Midwest for the day to dump 21 parachuting special operations Marines into Indiana airspace.<br /> <br /> The Marine Corps Special Operations Command troops hit their designated landing zone after a plummet of 13,000 feet into the Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center.<br /> <br /> In the back of the humming aircraft a Marine at the exit put up two hands, signaling the jumpers 10 minutes to jump, then one hand for five, until finally slapping them out with a firm pat on the back. <br /> <br /> “It’s definitely the best day at the office and one of the more exciting things we do,” said Lance Cpl. Benjamin Lockyer, a loadmaster with VMGR-252 "Otis," and the eyes in the back of the aircraft ensuring the parachutists were on point. <br /> <br /> Benjamin, a Wilmington, N.C., native, leaned out the back of the garage door-sized opening at the rear of the aircraft, looking for an orange 10 by 15-foot "T" on the ground, indicating where the troops needed to be dropped. Rarely do they land outside 100 meters of the mark, according to a MARSOC team chief. <br /> <br /> “Precise,” said the team chief. “It’s absolutely critical that we’re on the same page.”<br /> <br /> Lockyer and another loadmaster coordinate with the pilots, calculating wind, elevation, weight and the speed of the Hercules before giving the green light to jump. <br /> <br /> Other factors include changes in weather and proximity of other aircraft, which they saw this day. A crop duster was in the vicinity of their drop zone, requiring them to circle the landing zone again until it was clear. <br /> <br /> Once the jumpers were out, the jobs of the Marines aboard the aircraft were done, leaving the MARSOC Marines soaring to their training area below. <br /> <br /> “It always boils down to how we work together as a team,” said the team chief.<br /> <br /> The Marines conduct this training once or twice a month, said Lockyer. “It becomes second nature for both sides.”<br /> <br /> Landing back at the air station around 7 p.m., it was another day at the office for the Marines at VMGR-252, who still happened to make it home in time for the Sunday night football game.