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Marines master helo insertion, extraction

3 Nov 2009 | Lance Cpl. Eugenio Montanez 1st Marine Division

A two-week course made helo jump masters of a small group of Marines from 7th Marine Regiment during a Helicopter Rope Suspension Techniques course at Camp Margarita, Oct. 17-28.

The purpose of this course was to teach fast rope, rappel and special patrol insertion and extraction techniques from helicopter platforms.

“The main use for this training is for the insertions of squads or small units into an area not easily approached by ground,” said Sgt. Chris Thompson, an instructor for the HRST course at Division Schools.

Marines teamed up to check each other’s ropes and knots to look for any imperfections that might cause accidents.

“Safety is extremely important because most of the time you’re 100 feet in the air and you wouldn’t want to fall from up there,” Thompson said. “It’s all about trusting your fellow Marines. You have to build that trust to succeed during the course and especially when you do it in a real situation.”

They also learned a different form of communication other than talking to one another.

“In the helicopter you really can’t hear much because of the noise, so we use hand and arm signals to be more accurate,” said Thompson.

As is the case with most Marine Corps training, the “crawl-walk-run” approach kept everyone on the same page.

“It’s repetitive because if the Marines don’t know how to do it then you’re not going to try something that is more dangerous not knowing what could happen,” said Staff Sgt. Marcus Hernandez, a platoon sergeant with 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines.

The course had many challenges, but to learn the fundamentals, instructors tested the Marines with “muscle memory” methods, explained Hernandez.

“I believe the most difficult part of the course was to tie the knots blindfolded in a time limit of 30 seconds,” Hernandez said. “For some knots you get more time or less time depending on the knot.”

The Marines said they felt the course pushed them to succeed in a way that can be applied to other missions too.

“This training really builds your confidence and lets you know what you can really do,” said Cpl. Jeremy Lemons, a rifleman with Company A, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines. “We work and work the same thing until it just becomes second nature, and that makes you feel more confident.”

These new HRST masters will now have a new asset to take back and support their respective units and teach other Marines.

“I recommend this course because it’s a really good skill to have in your tool box when needed,” said Lemons.

1st Marine Division