Recon Marines from 1st Recon Bn conducted the first combat jump by Recon Marines since the Viet Nam war.  The Recon Marines jumped into Western Iraq  using a HAHO (High Altitude High Opening) parachute insertion. There were 3 parachute inserts conducted by Recon during Viet Nam, so it’s been quite a while since jumping has been used in combat operations. The full run down of the operation is below as reported by Sgt. Nathan K. LaForte of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing on Aug. 10, 2004.


AL ASAD, Iraq(Aug. 10, 2004) — Six recon pathfinders from 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, recently jumped into the Iraqi night sky and into history from a Marine KC-130 Hercules cargo plane belonging to the joint Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadrons 234 and 352, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.

The high altitude high opening jump took place in western Iraq, July 23.

Although reconnaissance Marines have religiously practiced air insertions time and time again, they have been virtually nonexistent in combat. According to Headquarters Marine Corps historical reports, the last combat airdrop a Marine Corps unit successfully performed was nearly 35 years ago.

The first was on June 14, 1966 during the Vietnam War. A small team of recon Marines made the low altitude night jump determined to quietly insert and set up an observation point within enemy territory. The team made it to the ground with only one small injury and was later extracted.

The jump was hailed as a success by most involved and the combat jump was accepted as a viable means of placing Marines in hostile areas.

The second, on Sept. 5, 1967, almost killed the combat airdrop idea for the Marine Corps. A group of nine Marines jumped into the night sky for a supposed 700-foot elevation drop. Because of mechanical malfunctions with the plane, the Marines unknowingly jumped from around 1500 to 2000 feet.