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Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego

Fear of heights not an option for recruits

By Cpl. Walter D. Marino II | Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego | January 14, 2013

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Recruits of Company M, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, rappel down a tower aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego Jan. 4. Recruits wore helmets and gloves for their safety.

Recruits of Company M, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, rappel down a tower aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego Jan. 4. Recruits wore helmets and gloves for their safety. (Photo by Cpl. Walter D. Marino II)


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Recruits of Company M, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, await their turn to rappel down a 60-foot tower aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego Jan. 7. Recruits rappelled down the tower using the fast roping and rappelling technique.

Recruits of Company M, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, await their turn to rappel down a 60-foot tower aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego Jan. 7. Recruits rappelled down the tower using the fast roping and rappelling technique. (Photo by Cpl.Walter D. Marino II)


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A recruit of Company M, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, begins to remove his equipment after fast roping down a tower aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego Jan. 4. As part of their recruit training, recruits were required to fast rope and rappel down an approximately 60-foot tower.

A recruit of Company M, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, begins to remove his equipment after fast roping down a tower aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego Jan. 4. As part of their recruit training, recruits were required to fast rope and rappel down an approximately 60-foot tower. (Photo by Cpl. Walter D. Marino II)


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San Diego --     Sixty-feet may seem high to some recruits, but it’s still 60 feet recruits are required to rappel and fast rope down from -- regardless of their fears.
    Recruits of Company M, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, learned how to rappel and fast rope down a 60-foot tower aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego Jan. 7.
    Rappelling is bounding off the side of a wall using a harness and fast roping is sliding straight down without one. Fast roping is a technique utilized in helicopters. 
    After recruits received a safety brief and were inspected for proper wear of equipment, recruits lined up the steps to the top of the Marine tower. Mixed faces showered the line, some recruits looked scared and some appeared excited. 
    “It’s a bit scary to look at,” said Recruit DeForrest B. Key, Platoon 3271, Co. M. 3rd RTBn. “I’m a little nervous; the anticipation is hard. There’s no coming back down though, you have to trust in yourself and each other.”

    Recruits wore helmets, gloves and were attached to a rope harness. Marine drill instructors were posted below and atop the tower to guide recruits and ensure their safety. Lastly, the floor surrounding the tower is compossed of shredded rubber.
    Still despite all the safety precautions and knowledge given to recruits, one thing remained the same, the wall was still 60-feet tall which appeared much taller for recruits afraid of heights.
    There are always a few recruits who are terrified of the exercise but there is never a recruit who comes back down the stairs, explained Staff Sgt. Michael A. Miranda, drill instructor, Instructional Training Company, Support Bn.
    “I’ve never had a recruit walk back down and not (rappel),” said Miranda, a static rope sustainment trainer. “It has to do with walking them through the steps. No way, shape or form are we yelling on top of the tower. It’s already stressful as is; we talk to them and let them know it’s alright.” 
    One by one recruits rappelled down and fast ropped down the tower. Although some recruits struggled at times, no recruits quit the exercise. 
    The instructor’s knowledge and guidance helped put recruits minds at ease, explained Recruit Wes Laughlin, Plt. 3271, Co. M, 3rd RTBn.
    “I’ve done rock climbing, but it’s nothing like rappelling,” said Laughlin. “I’m still a little nervous though because I haven’t done it before.”
    Approximately 217 recruits learned two different ways to scale down a 60-foot tower. Should the situation arise for either fast roping or rappelling, these recruits now have a foundation to work upon.


2 Comments


  • Cpl Marino's commas 1 years 283 days ago
    you used commas way, way, way, too much, like you built a 60-ft wall, of commas, you must have struggled at times, tell the Sgt who edited this to revisit how commas are used - you could have used hyphens to emphasize a pause. You also could have rephrased things to create full sentences. Your writing's not bad, but I doubt the shredded rubber floor is actually made of DI's, no matter how much they may say otherwise. Semper Fi, from a dumb ol' 0311.
  • Kevin Cornils 1 years 283 days ago
    One of my favorite memories of boot camp. I came down the rope in the heli-hole. I came down fast and stopped quickly at the bottom. The DI thought I wouldn't be able to stop but I stopped about a foot above his arms. We looked at each other and just laughed.

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