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Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego

Rappel Tower- Big challenge in recruit training

By Sgt. Walter D. Marino | Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego | June 16, 2014

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Two Lima Company recruits begin their journey down the 60-foot rappel tower while others await their opportunity at the bottom aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, June 6.

Two Lima Company recruits begin their journey down the 60-foot rappel tower while others await their opportunity at the bottom aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, June 6. (Photo by Sgt. Walter D. Marino)


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Recruit David Alvarez-Sanchez, Platoon 3274, Lima Company, puts on protective gloves while getting ready to rappel from the top of the 60-foot tower aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, June 6.

Recruit David Alvarez-Sanchez, Platoon 3274, Lima Company, puts on protective gloves while getting ready to rappel from the top of the 60-foot tower aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, June 6. (Photo by Sgt. Walter D. Marino)


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Recruits of Lima Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, fast rope down the "hell hole" of the rappel tower aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, June 6.  Marines with static rope suspension training monitored the exercise from the top and bottom of the tower.

Recruits of Lima Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, fast rope down the "hell hole" of the rappel tower aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, June 6. Marines with static rope suspension training monitored the exercise from the top and bottom of the tower. (Photo by Sgt. Walter D. Marino)


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Recruit David Alvarez-Sanchez, Platoon 3274, Lima Company, makes his way to the top of the 60-foot tower aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, June 6.  Once at the top, recruit were checked for proper gear placement and descended the tower at the end of a rope.

Recruit David Alvarez-Sanchez, Platoon 3274, Lima Company, makes his way to the top of the 60-foot tower aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, June 6. Once at the top, recruit were checked for proper gear placement and descended the tower at the end of a rope. (Photo by Sgt. Walter D. Marino)


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Recruit David AlvarezSanchez, Platoon 3274, Lima Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, a native of Las Vegas, Nev., waits for his turn during a rappelling exercise at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, June 6.  Prior to the training, recruits were given a class on the proper techniques needed for rappelling.

Recruit David AlvarezSanchez, Platoon 3274, Lima Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, a native of Las Vegas, Nev., waits for his turn during a rappelling exercise at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, June 6. Prior to the training, recruits were given a class on the proper techniques needed for rappelling. (Photo by Sgt. Walter D. Marino)


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Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego --

Standing at the top of a 60-foot tower can be intimidating, but trusting just a single rope and one person to assist you down over the edge can be completely frightening. 

Recruits of Lima Company rappelled down the 60-foot tower at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, June 6, and although some recruits were unfazed by the height, there were others who were frozen with fear.

Recruit David AlvarezSanchez, Platoon 3274, said he is terrified of heights because when he was nine, he was pushed off a cliff and into the ocean. 

AlvarezSanchez explained he gets flashbacks of the traumatic event every time he encounters heights.

The 21-year-old said his heart began to pound and his breathing quickened as he waited to rappel down the tower, but there was one thing that kept him from quitting.

“Making my little brother proud was my motivation,” said the Las Vegas native. “Even though I was scared for my life, I thought of my little brother and how he would be disappointed in me. I didn’t want to fail.”

AlvarezSanches said half way up the tower he was able to regain composure. He said it helped that the supervising drill instructors tried to keep the recruits relaxed.

The tower has a platform where the recruits are staged as they wait their turn to go to the top. Sgt. Bengamin G. Laca, drill instructor, Platoon 3242, used this area to remind the recruits they were safe and to ensure they did not have problems finishing the exercise.

AlvarezSanches said he was scared of falling as he positioned his heels at the edge of the tower, but somehow he managed to rappel down. 

When he reached the bottom he said he felt as though he accomplished a great feat.

“It was one the scariest things I’ve ever done,” said AlvarezSanches. “I’m really, really proud that I went down the tower. My senior drill instructor told me in order to completely get over my fear I have to do it again, so I plan on doing it again one day.”



3 Comments


  • Daniel Heilmann 60 days ago
    I don't remember my drill instructor reminding me I was safe and asking if I had a problem finishing the exercise. No, not quite the way I remember it at all! LOL!

    Platoon 2101, 1979.
  • Kathy Willmn 76 days ago
    So proud of our Marine Corps, may God Bless each one of you.
  • Kathy Willmn 76 days ago
    So proud of our Marine Corps, may God Bless each one of you.

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