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Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego

Rappel training demands recruits face fear

By Lance Cpl. Tyler Viglione | Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego | September 20, 2013

San Diego --

One of the most common fears among people is fear of heights. Company A, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, recruits took on the Rappel Tower aboard the depot to push pass that fear, Sept. 6.

During training day 58, recruits go through the rappel tower during recruit training because it is considered a confidence builder, according to Staff Sgt. Giovani Dominguez, senior drill instructor, Platoon 1010.

“A good amount of recruits who go through recruit training are afraid of heights in some way so when they are going up the stairs to the top of that tower, they have to push through the fear,” said Dominguez, a native of Bronx, N.Y.

The rappel tower is a 60-foot structure with three different sections: the rappelling wall, the hell-hole and the fast rope. All recruits must complete the fast rope but get a choice on which one out of the other two they would like to do.

The fast rope, which is the first event recruits learn at the rappel tower, is a rope hung vertically that recruits must mount and slide down. This section is meant to give the recruits an idea on how they would exit a helicopter.

After all recruits went through the fast rope, they were taught by an Instructional Training Company instructor on how to properly rappel or slide down the hell-hole.  They were also taught how to properly make a rope harness.

“After the recruits make their harnesses, they must be checked twice by instructors to ensure it is properly made and it fits the recruit like it should,” said Dominguez.

There are two routes that the recruits can go, the rappel wall or the hell-hole. The rappel wall is the side of the tower where recruits are supported by the harness and wall and get down by walking backwards down the side.  The hell-hole is another imitation of a helicopter exit and how one would exit by rope.

After recruits have been checked and are cleared, they climbed to the top of the 60-foot tower and faced their fears.

“I was so nervous when I was climbing up those stairs going to the top of the tower, “said Joseph G. Kangethe, platoon 1010. “It really didn’t look that high from the ground.”

According to Kangethe, a native of Nairobi, Kenya, he noticed himself overcome his fear of heights and was proud of himself for doing so.

“After I came down from the tower, I didn’t know why I wanted to, but I wanted to go back up,” said Kangethe.

Although recruits have conquered the rappel tower, they still have to face the Crucible, a 54-hour test of endurance where recruits must conquer more than 30 obstacles while they experience food and sleep deprivation.  Only after conquering the Crucible will recruits be awarded the title United States Marine.

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