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Marines, sailors, soldiers leap into training with parachute operations on Okinawa

US Marine Corps News

7/17/2009 By Lance Cpl. Thomas W. Provost, Marine Corps Bases Japan

IE SHIMA, Okinawa, Japan — Marine Corps history was made in December of 1940, when 2nd Lt. Walter A. Osipoff had the honor of making the first jump as a Marine paratrooper.

Marines and sailors from 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force and from 3rd Air Delivery Platoon, Landing Support Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 37, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III MEF along with soldiers from 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group, based at Torii Station, conducted airborne operations in military air space over Ie Shima Island, Okinawa, Japan, to hone their skills as parachutists July 7-9.

Many of the Marines jumping were beginners; either having just graduated from the U.S. Army Airborne School at Fort Benning, Ga., also known as Jump School, or being unable to jump for one reason or another.

Prior to making their way to the flightline on Marine Corps Air Station Futenma the Marines of both units divided into their groups, or "sticks," to practice all of the procedures they would need to use for whatever scenario they may encounter during the exercise.

"Falling though the sky is an indescribable feeling," said Pfc. Brandon B. Harbison, a parachute rigger with 3rd Air Delivery Platoon. "It is just a great feeling."

This was Harbison's first jump in the Fleet Marine Force since he graduated from Jump School approximately one year ago.

"Lots of training goes into achieving skills in airborne operations," said Gunnery Sgt. Blaine M. Jones, a jump master with 3rd Recon Bn.

The training all starts at Jump School, where Marines alongside their sister services become airborne qualified. The Marine becomes qualified after learning everything there is to know about the parachute, from packing it to employing it. During the three-week course service members have to successfully make five jumps in order to graduate.

The 3rd Recon Bn. on Camp Hansen, has a minimum requirement of jumping once every three months, said Gunnery Sgt. Steven M. Rogers, company gunnery sergeant, Headquarters Co., 3rd Recon Bn. The battalion has a future goal of making at least one jump per month by September, he added.

"It is paramount for one to keep training in airborne operations because it is a skill that can be lost if not used over time," said Rogers.

The Marines from 3rd Recon Bn. also cooperate closely with the parachute riggers of 3rd Air Delivery Platoon in numerous exercises. The riggers also make jumps alongside them to keep their skills sharp.

"I still get butterflies in my stomach but what gets me though the jumps is the fact that others have done it before me," said Gunnery Sgt. Timothy Parkhurst, paraloft chief, 3rd Recon Bn.


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