Okinawa Marines on the ropes – but in a good way
September 5, 2006
CAMP GONSALVES, Okinawa — Humidity, heat and heights just added to the fun had by 25 Marines with the Single Marine Program on Thursday at the Jungle Warfare Training Center.
The Single Marine Program set up a visit to the center for helicopter rope suspension training and a little time on the Slide for Life — two events many of the Marines said they hadn’t had a chance to do since boot camp.
“This was something the Marines requested and we try our best to make it happen,” said Kim Newberry, the SMP director. “It’s a morale thing; we send them back to their shops pumped.”
The center’s rappel site, nestled into the jungle here, seemed to hold in the heat and humidity and the Marines rapidly sweated through their camouflage utilities.
But that didn’t stop them from repeatedly trudging from the bottom of the cliffs to the top for another go down the obstacles.
And overcoming a fear of heights just added to the thrill.
“You can see the height and you’re like ‘oh goodness,’” said Lance Cpl. Ebony Rhodes, 21, from Houston, with 3rd Materiel Readiness Battalion. “But, it’s really fun,” she added after completing a 70-foot fast rope down the skid, a platform designed to simulate a fast insertion from the back of a helicopter.
“I was terrified; it’s not like boot camp where drill instructors are screaming at you. Here it’s all on you,” said Lance Cpl. Jose Ortiz, from Delray, Fla., with 3rd Marine Logistics Group, after completing a rappel down the wall.
“The biggest fear at the wall is that you have to lean back to step down the wall,” said Staff Sgt. David McDaniel, 26, from El Dorado, Ark., a training center instructor. He added that instructors often have to talk Marines over the edge.
The event was a much-appreciated training opportunity, said Christopher Lambert, 25, from Oceana, W.Va., with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 32. “We don’t get to do a lot of ground training,” he said. “This was something to get us back to our roots of ‘Always a Marine first.’”