MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO --
With nearly three months of training completed, the recruits of Company H have overcome many challenges. They have qualified with a rifle, swam in a full combat load and endured demanding physical training sessions. With only a few weeks remaining on the depot, they are given a task that takes the challenge to new heights: the rappel tower.
The recruits began their training day with a series of classes where on the proper techniques for rappelling and how to create their safety harnesses to hold them securely while rappelling. The harness is made using a six-foot rope wrapped around the hips and legs and secured by a series of square knots.
Prior to the training evolution, each recruit was issued safety gear, consisting of a tactical helmet, gloves, ropes and a carabiner. A spotter was also on hand to assist them in a safe descent to the ground.
“It gives them (the recruits) a broad view of all the types of training in the Marine Corps,” said Sgt. Paul Bribiesca, drill instructor, Platoon 2169, Co. H. “Regardless of their military occupational specialty, it’s a taste of what the Corps provides.”
Once the classes ended, recruits lined up with their Kevlar helmets and 8gloves to perform the fast rope excersise
Fast roping, a method for quick insertion on an objective from a helicopter, is the first technique recruits learn during this training phase. Sliding down a 15-foot rope to the ground, the fast roping technique is similar to the way a fire fighter slides down a pole during an emergency.
To fast rope, the recruits grab the rope with their hands then use the inside portion of their boots to guide them down the rope, controlling their descent by squeezing the rope with their hands. They push off the edge and slide down, hitting the ground running to get their gear to tackle the rappel tower.
After fast roping, they move on to the rappel tower to learn how to wall rappel. This method is used with a safety harness and a spotter, and simulates rappelling down the side of a building. While on top of the 60-foot tower, some recruits get nervous but their senior drill instructors and Instructional Training Company drill instructors are close by to offer words of encouragement.
“When I was waiting, all I could feel was adrenaline,” said Recruit Jonah Tellez, Platoon 2171, Co. H. “One of the ITC instructors told me, ‘Nothin’ to be scared of, son.’ Then I realized there really was nothing to it.”
Recruit Chris Reudelhuder, on the other hand, had a different experience. He said he was scared of heights, and getting yelled at made him nervous. While he was descending, his rope got caught and he couldn’t move, but he said after it was over, it was relatively fun.
This part of training is intended to help the recruits, not scare them.
“It helps build confidence and courage,” said Sgt. Jose Vigil, drill instructor, Platoon 2170, Co. H. “It helps them get confident in their abilities.”
Even if this is the first and last time the recruits rappel, the experience of dangling 60 feet in the air is something they are bound to never forget.