Forty troops, four supply bundles and one truck dropped from the sky

12 Jul 2004 | Lance Cpl. Ruben D. Maestre

It is rare to see a military truck rigged with parachutes dropped out of the sky, but that's exactly what Marines did over Drop Zone Falcon July 11.The exercise began with a parachute drop of a High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle on a platform followed by four heavy loads, simulating supplies for troops in the field."It's been several years since the Marine Corps dropped a HUMVEE from an airborne aircraft," said 1st Lt. Francis D. Friedman, a native of Safety Harbor, Fla., and platoon commander of 2nd Air Delivery Platoon, 2nd Transportation Support Battalion, 2nd Force Service Support Group. "This training is a stepping stone in our abilities supplying heavier loads."Several dozen Marines from various units within II Marine Expeditionary Force conducted the joint airborne operations with the assistance of Air Force aircraft and personnel.After the heavy equipment was unloaded over the training site, at least 35 Marines participated in an airborne jump. Nearly half a dozen military personnel from the United Kingdom and Germany also participated in the exercise. The airborne troops jumped in four major airborne "sticks" where roughly ten troops jumped simultaneously in a pass over the drop zone. An Air Force liaison officer assigned to the Marine forces here and an Air Force C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft assisted with logistics efforts during the airborne maneuvers."This training exercise is a chance for the Air Force and Marine Corps to gain experience from each other," said Lt. Col. Ken Coburn, Air Force Air Mobility Command, liaison officer assigned to II MEF. "This aircraft is being extensively used in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Marines, becoming well-trained in C-17 operations, are receiving added experience by utilizing our aircraft in this exercise."The training exercise highlighted the re-supply capabilities of the battalion to military commanders on the ground."The training shows the battalion commanders and sergeants major our capability of re-supplying troops on the frontline," said Sgt. R. J. Roberts, a native of Patterson, N.J., and a platoon sergeant assigned to the platoon. The work was time consuming and complex for the parachute riggers assigned to attach the necessary equipment to the HUMVEE. Additional equipment such as a platform for the vehicle was needed for easy transport into the aircraft and for shock absorption."We worked 15 to 16 hours for two days straight," said Pfc. Robert Richards, a native of Baltimore, and a parachute rigger. "This was more complicated to rig, and a platform was needed for its extraction from the plane."Despite the work, the exercise provided invaluable lessons in supplying large and heavy loads, and the experience heightened the airborne capabilities of the Marine Corps."The training exercise enhanced our capabilities," said Friedman. "It gave our commanders greater confidence in our unit providing heavier supply loads to Marines in the field."