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Training and Education Command

United States Marine Corps
Rappel Marines tower above regular training

By Cpl. Eric R. Lucero | | August 23, 2002

MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT/EASTERN RECRUITING REGION, PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. -- -- As the sun comes up over the tree line, recruits routinely are greeted with one of the most terrifying sights they encounter while on the Depot. Standing before them lies a 47-foot monster of a tower recruits must conquer before making their way to the Peatross Parade Deck to collect their Eagle, Globe and Anchor.

It is here where they must conquer their fears and make their way down the tower not once, but three separate times.

The rappel tower, which oddly enough bears no nickname, is manned by 12 Marines assigned to the Field Training Platoon, WFTBn., who are responsible for training approximately 600 recruits per week, said Staff Sgt. Terry J. Mesec, rappel master. There are, of course, some permanent party personnel that train there as well.

The rappel masters start their instructing day at 7 a.m. The day will not end until 3 p.m., when the last of the recruits is finished on the tower and the crew is briefed on their day's accomplishments. 

Before stepping foot onto the tower, each recruit is given an instructional class on procedure and safety by one of the black shirt instructors. The instructor giving the classes will then give no less than three demonstrations to the recruits before starting the actual training. Each recruit is then required to practice his break technique on the ground on one of the six practice poles at the site.

While making sure each recruit remains safe atop the tower, the instructors must also ensure the proper technique is used by each of the recruits as he makes his way down the tower.

With many of the recruits bringing a fear of heights with them, the instructors at the tower must handle each situation with ease.

"We usually have their senior drill instructors talk to them," said Mesec. "They deal with the recruit."

The only problem the instructors seem to encounter while atop the tower actually has nothing to do with the recruits at all.

"[The worst part of the job has to be] the heat on top of the tower during the summer months," said Mesec. "Other than that, there are no challenges."

While rappel tower personnel must maintain the same standards as the rest of the Marine Corps when it comes to PT and other code of ethics, their pride in their jobs is a major part of their mission accomplishment.

"The rappel tower is probably the hardest thing the recruits do when they come to the Depot," said Cpl. Davision Donisleal, black shirt instructor. "We are the ones out there giving them this training. We feel pretty good about that."

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