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Airborne Marines and Sailors Try Out the SF-10A

And I'm not talking about Standard Forms...Airborne!!!

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The crew of an Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft watch Marines from Landing Support Company's Air Delivery Platoon parachute over Ie Shima Dec. 5.  Photographer: Cpl. Terence Yancey of III Marine Expeditionary Force Public Affairs.

Marines, Sailors Jump Through Ie Shima Sky
By Lance Cpl. Terence L. Yancey
III Marine Expeditionary Force PAO

IE SHIMA, OKINAWA, Japan -- Marines and sailors from 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion joined Combat Logistics Regiment 3's Air Delivery Platoon to take advantage of one of the last parachute opportunities of the year, jumping onto Ie Shima Dec. 5.

Both units have missions that require parachute training throughout the year, and they used the training to familiarize new Marines with the SF-10A parachute, the parachute fielded by most special operations units and the entire Marine Corps. At the U.S. Army Airborne School, Marines train with the older model T-10 parachute.

For many of the Marines, the jump was their first with the SF-10A, according to 1st Lt. Dan Hinkson, the platoon's officer-in-charge. The jumpers are required to have three training jumps with it before being able to use it in an operational capacity.

"The amount of time it takes to complete the transition varies depending on the opportunities," Hinkson said. "Sometimes all three jumps can be completed in one day, but these jumpers might not get their next jump until (Exercise) Balikatan (in February)."

More after the Jump...

All jump-status units in the military must jump at least once every quarter to maintain proficiency, and Hinkson said he tries to get his platoon out to jump once a month. Ie Shima jumps only happen for Hinkson's platoon about two or three times a year, however. The majority of the unit's airborne exercises take place during bilateral training exercises throughout the Pacific Rim.

During the Ie Shima jump, Marines who used the SF-10A for the first time noticed the advantages of the more-advanced parachute.

"One of its main advantages is that it has a steerable canopy," said Pfc. Jeremy Macias, a parachute rigger with Air Delivery Platoon. "The old one wasn't really steerable at all. You can make a full 360 degree turn in about seven seconds, and it gives you a much softer landing."

Air Delivery Platoon extended an invitation to members of 3rd Reconnaissance Bn., giving them a training opportunity they wouldn't have had otherwise. Most of the battalion is in Iraq, and it's more difficult for the element that remained behind to set up jumps here, according to Gunnery Sgt. Tim Parkhurst, the 3rd Reconnaissance Bn. Paraloft Chief.

"For some of our guys, this is their first jump since graduating jump school," Parkhurst said. "This gives them a chance to familiarize themselves with the equipment and procedures used in the fleet."

After completing the Ie Shima jump with the SF-10A, Marines from both units needing experience with the parachute are one jump closer to meeting the goal of three training jumps.

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