15th MEU News
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Photo by SSgt TG Kessler

Recon platoon helocasts from above, dives below

14 Sep 2006 | Staff Sgt. T.G. Kessler 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Marines from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) hit the beaches of Hawaii to conduct a rigorous week-long training schedule.

The 15th MEU’s Force Reconnaissance Platoon parachuted in, arriving in Hawaii in advance of the main body of the 15th MEU, and have been training ever since.

For two days the Force Recon Platoon has been conducting a series of amphibious training and two parts of the scheduled training were a helocast and an underwater dive. According to Gunnery Sgt. Andrew Kingdon, platoon sergeant for Force Recon Platoon, “it is all in a days work” for his Marines.

The training was a little lighter than the normal grueling training these Marines endure, however, it gave them an opportunity to concentrate on the skills necessary to insert and extract from beaches, explained Kingdon.

“[Today’s] training is a continuation of the amphibious training from yesterday. These are all basic skills that need to be touched upon,” said Kingdon.

For the Force Recon Platoon, a helocast is used to secretly insert Marines from offshore, said Kingdon. Typically, the Marines will jump from the rear of a helicopter hovering at about a height of 10 feet into water.

At first thought, having a helicopter such as a CH-53 Sea Stallion may not seem like stealthy way of inserting Marines.  However, at more than a nautical mile off the coast, it can be quite a stealthy process, Kingdon explained.

Kingdon explained that because of the ambient noise of the surf and wind it is possible that the enemy may not even know they are there.

Cpl. Beau Maples, team member, Force Reconnaissance Platoon, had only good things to say about the training day.

“Everything went smoothly, and no one got hurt—it was a good day,” he said. Having joined the team just three short months ago, he has spent the last several months getting schooled up on the ins and outs of the team, he explained.

For Maples, the helocasting was almost fun, even though the helocast was followed by a 750-1,000 yard swim. Having the benefit of calm seas, the water was not very punishing he said.

“We’re supposed to able to come smoothly out the water and be able to keep cool and focused,” said Maples.

Once each of the Marines had the jumped in the water from the air, the day was not quite over. A handful, a dozen went on to conduct diving. Diving is an advanced skill that many of the recon Marines posses said Kingdom.

Using their underwater breathing apparatus, the Marines swam subsurface a distance of about 700 yards to the shore. The day’s dive training is two-fold, explained, Kingdon. Since the Marines receive dive pay, the day’s dive is also a re-qualification dive.

“This is a chance to actually work from the ocean to the land which something [the Marines] don’t get to do often,” said Kingdon.

The 15th MEU (SOC) is currently deployed as a part of the Expeditionary Strike Group in support of the Global War on Terror.

15th Marine Expeditionary Unit