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10-21-04, 05:22 AM #1
Marines teach middle school students to rappel
Marines teach middle school students to rappel
Submitted by: MCB Camp Butler
Story Identification #: 20041019211045
Story by Lance Cpl. Joel Abshier
CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, Japan -- (Oct. 13, 2004) -- A seventh-grade student moves closer to the top edge of a 65-foot rappel tower while looking at a Marine rappelling instructor.
The 12-year-old says, “I can’t do it,” but the Marine from Special Operations Training Group reassures the young man that he must have courage in himself to complete the task.
The student smiles, tightly grips the 11-millimeter rappelling rope and the SOTG Marine watches him descend to the ground.
The boy was among 21 Lester Middle School students who received Helicopter Rope Suspension Training here Oct. 13 to build self-confidence.
“This was a chance for the students to prove that if they can rappel, they can do anything,” said Deborah Newman, Lester Middle School seventh-grade teacher, who coordinated the event. “However, the children couldn’t have done it without the Marines' help.”
Six Marines with III Marine Expeditionary Force's SOTG taught the students how to tie knots, walk down the wall and inspect their gear. The Marines also explained that a belayman, located at the bottom of the tower, would pull their rope if the student lost control while descending the wall.
The students rappelled out of a hole in the tower, simulating the bottom of CH-53E Super Stallion and CH-46E Sea Knight helicopters, and they rappelled off of a flat wall, simulating the side of a building.
“Safety, confidence and trust are what (the Marines) focused on,” said Sgt. Brian M. McGrath, a boat maintenance noncommissioned officer with SOTG.
The hardest part was getting the nerve to start descending, said 11-year-old Sarah R. Barreyro.
“I was scared when I started to go ever the (tower’s) edge,” Barreyro said. “But the Marine who was helping me said he would catch me if I let go of the ropes. Getting down the tower was not bad after that.”
If a student accidentally started “fruit batting,” which is when the student turns upside down while walking down the wall, the instructors would tell them how to get into the right position, said Gunnery Sgt. Toshia C. Sundermier, a parent at the event who is a faculty advisor for the Staff Noncommissioned Officer Academy.
“I was laughing so hard that I slipped when I was going down the wall,” said 12-year-old Melvin T. Winn. “But the (belayman) kept me from slipping any further.”
Most of the students trusted the Marine instructors and belaymen at the base of the tower, said Sgt. Jaime Garay, a HRST instructor helping the students from the top of the rappel tower.
“I had a young boy say he couldn’t rappel after his shoe fell off while he was still at the top of the tower,” Garay said. “Eventually, he rappelled to the bottom, and I could see he
was proud that he did it.”
CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, Japan –- Seventh-grader Ben J. Hall, 13, looks down the side of the rappel tower as Cpl. Michael F. Shirley instructs him how to keep his legs straight here Oct. 13. Shirley was among six Marines with Special Operations Training Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, who taught 21 Lester Middle School students how to build self-confidence through rappelling. Shirley is an HRST instructor with SOTG. Photo by: Lance Cpl. Joel Abshier
CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, Japan – Seventh-grader Melvin T. Winn, 12, is given instruction on how to lean back properly on the rappel tower from Cpl. Michael F. Shirley here Oct. 13. Shirley was among six Marines with Special Operations Training Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, who taught 21 Lester Middle School students how to build self-confidence through rappelling. Shirley is an HRST instructor with SOTG. Photo by: Lance Cpl. Joel Abshier
CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, Japan – Seventh-grade teacher Ernestine Delaney (left) is given advice from Sgt. Brian M. McGrath while descending through the "hellhole" here Oct. 13. The "hellhole" is an affectionate term for the opening in the floor of some helicopters. McGrath was among six Marines with Special Operations Training Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force who taught 21 Lester Middle School students how to build self-confidence through rappelling. McGrath is a boat maintenance noncommissioned officer, SOTG. Photo by: Lance Cpl. Joel Abshier
The Drifter's Wife
IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY LATE HUSBAND, SSgt Roger A. Alfano, USMC
ONE PROUD MARINE
Once a Marine...Always a Marine
10-21-04, 12:04 PM #2
That's the kind of thing I wished I would've had around when I was in middle school!
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