MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Marines from Company A, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, conducted a night helocast off the shore of Red Beach during a night helocast training exercise, Feb. 1. The Marines trained alongside Japanese Rangers from the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force as part of Exercise Iron Fist 2012, a bilateral training exercise between the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit and the JGSDF.
The event was a rehearsal for a future exercise on board the USS Peleliu, where the Marines and Japanese are scheduled to conduct a full profile mission on San Clemente Island. To familiarize the Marines and soldiers with the technique, they conducted several daytime helocast trainings prior to the night jump.
With only the moon to see, the service members filed into the two CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters. The propellers sparked into two silver halos by large amounts of static electricity as they took off into the dark night. Once the helicopter dropped down to within 10-meters from the water, the servicemembers jumped into the 57 degree ocean. Once all Marines and soldiers jumped, they took accountability of gear and personnel before swimming to shore under the stealth of night.
“We would almost never do a helocast during the day in a real mission,” said Master Sgt. Joshua J. Lind, operations chief, A Co., 1st Recon Bn., 1st MARDIV. “Everything is always done at night.”
Realistically, during a mission, the Marines would helocast with inflatable boats offshore. From there, they would ride the boats to about 2km off the coast then swim to the beach and push inland, said Lind.
Outside of training requirements, helocasting takes a great deal of dedication to duty.
“This is why I joined the Marine Corps,” said Sgt. Michael Vargas, team leader, 3rd Platoon, A Co., 1st Recon. Bn., 1st MARDIV. “I’d much rather be cold, tired and wet than working in an office somewhere. This is my job, and this is what I love doing.”
The 15th MEU is currently training for a deployment later this fall.