Photo Information

Combat cameraman Cpl. Tripp Ainsworth descends 35 feet down a thick plaited rope rigged to a helicopter parked on the amphibious assault ship Makin Island at sea miles off Southern California’s coast Sept 8. The 23-year-old Jacksonville, Fla., native – who serves with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s command element – practiced insertion techniques with Battalion Landing Team 3/1, the unit’s ground combat element. The unit is conducting a second sea-based exercise since becoming a complete Marine-air ground task force in May.

Photo by Cpl. Tommy Huynh

Company trains to descend from helos

8 Sep 2011 | Sgt. Elyssa Quesada

Marines and sailors serving with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s ground combat element slid 35 feet down a thick, plaited rope rigged to a parked helicopter on the amphibious assault ship Makin Island miles off Southern California’s coast Sept 8.  

The training simulated a technique for inserting a company-sized force into an objective area.

“When we’re inserting by air – in six or eight aircraft – fast-roping from helicopters is the answer if we encounter a fouled (landing zone), be it debris or obstacles, or we’re restricted from landing in an urban environment,” said Company I executive officer and Boston native 1st Lt. Matthew Astphan. “And if we’re proficient enough, it’s actually faster to rope down into multiple sites without the pilots having to land.” 

Company I is one of three rifles companies in Battalion Landing Team 3/1 and serves primarily as a dedicated helicopter-borne raid force.

Astphan said two of the company’s platoons fast-roped from helicopters in July, descending from altitudes as high as 50 feet.

“By practicing and rehearsing, we’ll get better at fast-roping,” said Sgt. Jeffrey Draney, a helicopter rope-suspension technique master with the company. “This training will enable the Marines to prepare for the upcoming deployment and whatever the MEU may be tasked with.”

The unit began conducting a second sea-based exercise Sept. 1, its second since becoming a complete Marine-air ground task force in May.


Marine Corps News

Colonel Jim W. Lively
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Colonel Lively is a native of Dallas, Texas. He received his commission in 1996 through the Platoon Leaders Course program after graduating from Texas A&M University with a BA in Psychology.

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Lieutenant Col. Le E. Nolan
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Lieutenant Colonel Nolan is a 2001 graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology and received his commission through Officer Candidate Class 180. After completing flight training as a CH-53E pilot, he reported to HMH-361 in MCAS Miramar.

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Sergeant Major Travis L. DeBarr
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11th Marine Expeditionary Unit