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Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Ronald A. Laganzon rappels from a helicopter parked on USS Bonhomme Richard’s flight deck here Oct. 6 to an elevator platform three stories below. Laganzon serves with Battalion Landing Team 2/4, the ground combat element of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which deployed Sept. 24 to the Western Pacific.

Photo by Sgt. Scott Biscuiti

Marines, sailors rappel as ship sails

6 Oct 2009 | Cpl. Jeffrey Belovarac

Marines and sailors of Battalion Landing Team 2/4 rappelled from a helicopter parked on USS Bonhomme Richard’s flight deck here Oct. 6 to an elevator platform three stories below.

“It’s pretty scary at first but nice once you’re on the ground,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua D. Thornbloom, 23, from Portland, Ore. “It doesn’t help that we’re leaning out over the rear of the helicopter with the ocean under us. The intimidation factor goes up a little bit.”

The Weapons Company members lowered themselves from the back of a CH-46 Sea Knight, many rappelling for the first time since recruit training, said 1st Lt. Jameson K. Norton, a 23 year old from Nashville, Tenn.

“Rappelling isn’t used much, but it’s a skill Marines can maintain while they’re with us,” said Norton. “It’s a great confidence booster.”

Norton said it gives a Marine the skill and confidence to descending arduous terrain.

Fast-roping, or free sliding down a rope through a hole, is the preferred method for expeditious helicopter exits over land, and Marines typically rappel from towers or cliff sides. However, while sailing aboard the amphibious assault ship, they improvised.

Battalion Landing Team 2/4 is the ground combat element of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which is currently deployed to the Western Pacific.


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