Airborne exercise, part training, part showcase

25 Jun 2004 | Lance Cpl. Ruben D. Maestre

The old runway here at Drop Zone Pheasant was brightly glossed over by the sun's reflection when supply bundles, airborne Marines and other military personnel began parachuting out of the sky.  

"Run," yelled airborne Marine instructors on the ground a command to abruptly maneuver parachutists drifting towards the precarious tree line.

Meanwhile, Marine officers, students at the officer logistics course at Camp Johnson, looked on with awe.

Military personnel from various units conducted several airborne jumps and supply drops, while officers from the Logistics School observed for future application during training exercises here June 24.

"This is an air delivery capabilities demonstration for the logistics officer students at Camp Johnson," said 1st Lt. Francis D. Friedman, a native of Safety Harbor, Fla., and platoon commander for 2d Air Delivery Platoon, 2d Transportation Support Battalion, 2d Force Service Support Group. "We're here to show them first hand what we can do."

Before the jumps, supply bundles were dropped as a demonstration for logistics officers of how re-supply efforts can be utilized by friendly forces in the field. 

"This [demonstration] is one part of a four day field exercise for the logistics officer course," said Capt. Jersey Y. Reyes, a native of Elizabeth, N.J., and an instructor at the logistics school.  "This is part of a new expanded field exercise for our Marines."

The demonstration highlighted the airborne supply capabilities which can be provided to Marines and allied forces in terrain inaccessible by other means of transport.

"This is part of a showcase of combat service support capabilities that may be utilized to supply the warfighter in the battlefield," said Reyes.  "In addition to motor transportation operations, Helicopter Extended Air Transport is another option for logistics."

The second phase of the exercise consisted of airborne jumps by military personnel from the CH-53.  Most of the Marine jumpers were from 2d Air Delivery; 2d Air/Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, II Marine Expeditionary Force; 2d Radio Battalion, II MEF; and Counter Intelligence, Human Intelligence, 2d Intelligence Battalion, II MEF. 

In addition to the Marine units, German and Dutch troops participated in the airborne exercise in order to maintain and improve their jump qualifications.

"We are all jump qualified, but we are obligated to do the minimum jumps as German paratroopers," said Lt. Col Harald F. Neumann, German army liaison officer to the Marine Corps Combat Development Command and one of three German officers who participated in the drop.  "As a liaison officer with the Marine Corps, I think it's best to jump with Marines."

Participating in the training were Marines building on their jump qualifications through further experience in airborne jumps.

"This is the first time I 'tailgated' [jumped] from a CH-53," said Lance Cpl. Eric S. Thompson, a native of Rialto, Calif., and a parachute rigger assigned to 2d Air Delivery.  "It's exciting, and it's a great deal of responsibility to make sure everything we do is one hundred percent perfect. There isn't any room for mistake."