Marine Corps Air Ground Conbat Center Twentynine Palms --
Marines with Company C, 4th Reconnaissance Battalion made several crucial, low level static line jumps from two CH-46E helicopters as part of Integrated Training Exercise 4-14 here, June 8, 2014.
ITX 4-14, the largest Reserve annual training exercise, kicked off June 6 and will include units from the 4th Marine Division, 4th Marine Air Wing and 4th Marine Logistics Group.
The Recon Marines first conducted the jumps without combat equipment - referred to as “slick” jumps - and later made several jumps with a combat load weighing approximately 100 pounds. Jumping out of an aircraft and landing at a specified target location is extremely difficult. In order to conduct successful insertions during combat operations, the Marines must make as many jumps as possible to practice landing on target and as a tight group.
“I think the jumps went quite well today,” said Sgt. Brad Coats, a reconnaissance Marine and native of Houston, Texas, also conducted the jump with the battalion. “This is just the beginning of our ‘crawl, walk, run’ training and I think we are on the right path.”
The jump was the first for Coats since graduating from the Army Airborne School in May. Getting a parachute strapped to his back again reminded him of why the training is so important.
“It’s the simple things like improving our jumping and landing proficiency that help us support the commander,” he added.
“This operation helps us stay as trained as possible and to be ready for any mission we are given at a moment’s notice. Even though we don’t train every day, we ensure that when we are training, we give 100 percent,” he added.
This exercise primarily serves as an opportunity for the company jumpmasters and unit leadership to evaluate how well the jumpers depart the aircraft and how tightly the members of the teams land together.
Jumpmasters, the expert parachutists within the unit and managers of the training regimen, watch closely as the jumpers exit the aircraft and land. The objective of the team of jumpers is to land no further apart than 25 meters from each other.
Master Sgt. Mark Dornak, 4th Reconnaissance Battalion operations chief and certified static line and free-fall jumpmaster, emphasized the importance of conducting the best jump possible every time to his Marines.
“As a Reserve Marine it’s hard to maintain a high level of proficiency because we don’t train every day like our active component brethren, so when we conduct training like this it is very important that we train hard and make the most progress as possible toward staying at a high level of readiness,” the College Station, Texas, native said.
Dornak, along with other Reserve Marines, understands that there are misconceptions active duty Marines have about their Reserve counterparts but he works to dispel the negative stereotypes through hard work, dedication and a unique perspective from his civilian life.
“I think we bring something extra to the table with regards to our integration with the active component. In addition to being Marines, we also have experience as full time college students and in careers that give us a different perspective on things,” Dornak explained. “We have guys who have PhDs, bachelor’s degrees and work as civilian mechanics, welders and other unique professions who became Marines and are in this unit for no other reason than because we absolutely love being Marines.”
He expressed the unit’s sentiment about the passion they have for their duties as Marines.
“Each and every one of us are here only because we truly love what we do!” he exclaimed.
As the battalion continues on to the next phase of training, the Marines will also progress in their experience and level of proficiency.
ITX 4-14 is an invaluable asset of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force Training Program and is the largest annual Marine Corps Reserve training exercise. ITX 4-14 aggregates over 4,000 reserve personnel from ground, air and logistics combat elements from across the United States for a two week exercise. This helps demonstrate the capability of the Marine Corps Reserve to form a MAGTF and rapidly deploy to a wide array of global contingencies.