VMGR-252 trains to drop beans, bullets and bandaids
Submitted by: MCAS Cherry Point
Story Identification #: 2004825151652
Story by Lance Cpl. Wil Acosta

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. (Aug. 20, 2004) -- "We're throwing heartbeats out of an airplane," said the pilot to his crew. "I don't want to hurt anyone or damage an aircraft because of artificial pressure in a training environment. If we need to call a ‘no-drop’ and make another pass over the drop zone, we will. I want to stress we are dropping human beings out of an airplane. This is as dangerous as it gets during training."

This was the message Maj. Jeffery P. Pellegrino stressed to his crew during a morning flight brief in the ready room of Cherry Point's Marine Aerial Refeuler Transport Squadron 252 prior to a live personnel drop involving air delivery Marines.
VMGR-252 joined forces with the Marines of 2nd Force Service Support Group's 2nd Air Delivery Platoon for a series of exercises designed to simulate the aerial delivery of beans, bullets and band-aids to forward-deployed troops at Camp Lejeune's LZ Falcon, Aug. 18-20.

"The purpose of this training is to simulate a battlefield re-supply via aerial delivery," said Master Sgt. Sirisak Longnecker, a paraloft chief with the 2nd Force Service Support Group. "During this exercise, VMGR-252 will drop food, ammo and meds from a KC-130J. The cargo loads will vary from 4,400 lbs. to 1,400 lbs. We will also do a live personnel drop at the end of the week."

VMGR-252 flew to New River in order to load their cargo while the airborne hard-chargers of 2nd Delivery Platoon marked the drop zone, established communication and ensured all personnel and vehicles maintained a safe distance from the drop zone.
"A lot can go wrong if we don't take the necessary safety measures," said Range Safety Officer Cpl. Joseph L. Pruit. "We make sure there are no aircraft flying near the landing zone. We also make sure all Marines and vehicles on the ground maintain a safe distance from the site."

Though all cargo drops went according to plan earlier in the week, VMGR-252 and the Marines of 2nd ADP faced technical difficulties on the morning of the live personnel drop, scheduled for Aug. 20.

Pellegrino and his crew maintained their vow to deliver the precious cargo of Marines safely by canceling the jump after one of the KC-130J's engines failed to register as fully operational prior to takeoff. Though the crew of the VMGR-252 KC-130J eventually diagnosed and corrected the problem after maintenance, their decision to cancel the jump was a responsible one that ensured the safety of approximately 28 Marines.

"We're always disappointed when we have to cancel a jump because we only get to do them once a month," said 2nd AD training non-commissioned officer Lance Cpl. Stephanie R. King. "But we all would rather be on the side of caution when human lives are involved."

Cpl. Joseph L. Priut, assigned to 2nd Air Delivery Platoon 2nd Force Service Support Group, inspects the parachutes of his fellow Marines before they board a KC-130J flown by Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252. The aircraft was scheduled to perform a personnel drop over Camp Lejeune's LZ Falcon as a training exercise designed to simulate an aerial resupply of troops to a foward deployed unit, Aug. 20. Photo by: Lance Cpl. Wil Acosta