BRIDGEPORT, Calif. – Marines with 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment rappelled off cliffs during rappel assault training as part of Mountain Exercise 2014 aboard Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, Calif., Aug. 29, 2014.
Marines with 3/1 will become the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s ground combat element in October. Mountain Exercise 2014 develops critical skills the battalion will need during deployment.
“This is going to require all of your core strength; you’re going to be heavy, you’re going to be tired, and a lot of you will trip and fall backwards,” yelled Staff Sgt. David K. Mwaura to an audience of Marines. “If that happens, and you panic and don’t do what you were taught here, you’re going to find yourself in a world of hurt.”
“They’ve done a great job of grasping the basics,” said Mwaura, a unit training instructor with Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center. “They need to continue to build off of what they are learning.”
The training started with classes on tying basic knots and rappel harnesses, as well as getting a feel for what it’s like to rappel with no gear.
“The training’s been great,” said Lance Cpl. Franklin Welke, a team leader with 2nd Platoon, Lima Company, 3/1. “This is my first time coming here and I’ve already learned so much. This is why I wanted to be [infantry], to do [training] like this. How many people can say they rappelled off a cliff today?”
After learning the basics, Marines tactfully made their way through the mountainous terrain to a location two kilometers from their camp to begin their rappel assault with their day packs and rifles.
In keeping a combat mind-set, Marines provided over-watch and security while assault climbers set up rappel lanes and began sending Marines over the edge.
“The hardest part for a lot of the people who do this for the first time is committing,” said Lance Cpl. Jonathan Hinojosa-Rivera, a team leader with 1st Platoon, Lima Company. “You have to have confidence in your gear and that you’re not going to fall. Once you commit and see how sturdy you are, it becomes a breeze.”
After completing the rappel assaults with day packs, Marines tactfully made their way back to camp and made preparations for a repel assault wearing their main pack and rifle.
Loaded and ready to go, Marines began to descend the cliff.
“This isn’t easy for someone doing it their first time,” said Sgt. Andrew L. Rector, a unit training instructor with MCMWTC. “Everything in your body is telling you no, don’t walk off that ledge, but you have trust in your equipment and follow the technique.”
As the training came to an end, Marines could be seen reenacting and laughing at each other’s rappelling attempt.
“This is very serious training,” Rector said. “But it doesn’t mean they can’t have fun doing it.”