Look! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No…
It’s Marines from Combat Logistics Regiment 2 and CLR-27 doing low altitude static line parachute operations at the Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range near Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Oct. 5.
“Static line jumps are when a cord is attached to the aircraft and when the jumper jumps, it automatically releases the parachute,” said Staff Sgt. Doug Gallant, a 2nd Radio Battalion parachute rigger and a native of Colonial Heights, Va.
For many of these parachute riggers based out of Camp Lejeune, NC, training in the desert southwest provides a unique educational opportunity. The great expanse of range space and optimal weather conditions maximizes training time and mimics deployed environments in the Middle East.
“The Yuma desert is a forgiving environment,” said Gunnery Sgt. Ryan Cooper, a CLR-27 parachute rigger and a native of Carthage, N.C. “Jumping out here gives them a chance to practice controlling and familiarizing themselves with a canopy.”
CLR Marines are at MCAS Yuma for Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One’s Weapons and Tactics Instructors Course 1-13 which includes sustainment training with the UH-1Y Huey helicopters.
“It’s a perishable skill,” said Gallant. “If you don’t do it enough it becomes dangerous.”
Gallant also explains why parachute operations during WTI is vital to building their expertise in working with different aviation capabilities.
“During WTI, this is the only chance the parachute riggers use multiple types of aircraft and get to do every facet of their job,” he said. “From packing chutes to jumping and dropping cargo.”
With some of these jumpers deploying as early as next year, practicing all the elements of their job is crucial for mission readiness.
“Our main mission is to support the ground combat element with combat logistics supplies via air,” said Cooper, who has been jumping for 15 years.
The riggers mission is linked to sustaining ground combat operations in locales that might not be accessible via ground transportation due to terrain, enemy contact or weather.
“An aircraft cannot carry as much but can reach a base a whole lot faster than a convoy can,” said Gallant, when explaining the difference between delivering supplies via convoy versus aviation.
“It is less of a risk to the Marines and the equipment,” he added.
Whether it’s dropping cargo or dropping personnel, these Marines literally jump into harm’s way to keep Marines on the ground supplied and ready to continue the fight.