USS NASSAU – As I scooted to the open
end of the CH-46 I said a quick prayer that I wouldn’t
become one of those “This is why you don’t do this”
stories senior Marines often tell. I wasn’t nervous. I
didn’t have the jitters or butterflies. I’m not afraid
of heights. But becoming a safety statistic for the 22d
Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable)
isn’t high on my list of priorities.
I joined the
Marine Corps to do cool stuff. So when Bravo Company,
Battalion Landing Team 1/8 asked if I wanted to learn to
fast-rope, I was game. Fast-roping is an insertion method
that is simply sliding down a thick rope from a hovering
Helicopter Rappelling Suspension Training (HRST) Master Cpl.
Christopher Darwin, it can put a stick of Marines on an
objective in less than a minute.
is another way to get Marines from onboard a helicopter into
an objective in the event that a landing is not possible,”
said Rainsville, Ala. Marine “It’s a very quick means of
Company had arranged for Marine Medium Helicopter
Squadron-162 (Reinforced) to back one of their CH-46 to the
edge of the lowered aft elevator. Before I fast-roped the 40
feet into the hanger bay from the USS Nassau’s flight deck
from the back of a Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron –
162’s CH-46 “Phrog,” I went over it went over what we
had taught us just minutes before.
complicated part was making sure you spin the left side of
your body out first so your gear doesn’t catch on the
46’s lowered ramp. Everything else you already learned on
your elementary school jungle gym. You grip the rope tight
with your feet and holding on with both hands, slide down,
spreading your legs wide at the bottom to ensure a solid
base to land on.
I was the
last person in my stick. “Feet! Hands!” shouted the HRST
Master. After I quickly grabbed the rope, he smacked me on
the back of the helmet and, sliding off left side first, I
was on my way to the hanger bay.
It went off
pretty well for my first time. I landed well, my hands
weren’t on fire, and I wasn’t a statistic. We slid down
six more times and the last few we timed ourselves for
speed. My stick of ten Marines had an even mix of fast rope
veterans and virgins and we put everybody on the deck in 36
on the Marine, some pick it up fast and other have trouble
with techniques,” Darwin said. “But every Marine can
master the skill.”
BLT 1/8, and HMM-162 (REIN) are deployed with the 22d MEU
embarked aboard the USS Nassau, Nashville and Portland on a
routine six-month Mediterranean deployment.