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Marines from 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division descend, along with a Combat Rubber Raiding Craft, toward the sea after jumping from a C-130 off Okinawa's east coast, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017.
Marines from 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division descend, along with a Combat Rubber Raiding Craft, toward the sea after jumping from a C-130 off Okinawa's east coast, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017. (Matthew Burke/Stars and Stripes)
Marines from 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division descend, along with a Combat Rubber Raiding Craft, toward the sea after jumping from a C-130 off Okinawa's east coast, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017.
Marines from 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division descend, along with a Combat Rubber Raiding Craft, toward the sea after jumping from a C-130 off Okinawa's east coast, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017. (Matthew Burke/Stars and Stripes)
A Combat Rubber Raiding Craft falls onto the sea off Okinawa's eastern coast as Marines from 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, descend in the background, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017.
A Combat Rubber Raiding Craft falls onto the sea off Okinawa's eastern coast as Marines from 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, descend in the background, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017. (Matthew Burke/Stars and Stripes)
A Marine from 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, prepares for splashdown during parachute training off Okinawa's eastern coast, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017.
A Marine from 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, prepares for splashdown during parachute training off Okinawa's eastern coast, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017. (Matthew Burke/Stars and Stripes)

NAKAGUSUKU BAY, Okinawa — Members of the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division looked like mere specks moments before jumping from a C-130 during training Wednesday off Okinawa’s eastern coast.

A Combat Rubber Raiding Craft on a wooden pallet suddenly flew out, and two parachutes on top popped open. Then, a handful of Marines jumped in two successive runs as fellow reconnaissance Marines in inflatable crafts whooped and hollered below.

The Marines said it was the first time in recent memory — perhaps ever — that a raiding craft had been parachuted off the coast of the Japanese island prefecture.

The training was meant to prepare them for Blue Chromite 2017, an annual exercise taking place here at the end of the month. It’s designed to practice integration between amphibious Navy units and their Marine counterparts in the region.

Blue Chromite includes amphibious operations from Navy ships from Task Force 76 — headquartered on Okinawa but based in Sasebo, Japan — as well as seaborne raids by the Marines.

After hitting the surface and detaching their parachutes under an unforgiving sun, the Marines swam for the raiding craft. Those aboard first raced to pick up their comrades scattered several miles offshore. One Marine’s chute failed to submerge right away, and he was pulled swiftly across the water just above the surface.

The Marines, wearing full uniforms, fins and combat helmets, treaded water patiently until they were picked up, medium-sized waves bobbing them up and down in the surf. The group then headed for shore as a team.

The training continues this week.

burke.matt@stripes.com

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