Military Free Fall Team at the Top of the World

By Faye Higbee

MFF is “Military Free Fall.” It is used for troop insertion (even with K9s) and gear. It’s also about having nerves of steel to jump out of either fixed wing aircraft or helicopters at high altitude and take a parachute to land on specified targets. Last month, an MFF team made up of Marine Recon, Marine Raiders, a Navy SEAL, Army, a British Armed Forces veteran, and civilians, took an expedition to the Himalayas, and shattered 4 world records in the process.

The Himalayas- at the top of the world

The team was put together by Navy SEAL Fred Williams (Ret). His goal was to assemble the most skilled team available:  parachutists, oxygen experts, Sherpa Guides, emergency medicine, and a helicopter pilot. These men were to land on some of the highest mountains in the world, something that is not for the faint of heart.

Fox News reported,

In addition to William’s SEAL experience, team members had served in the U.S. Marine Corps Force Recon, Raiders and top sniper cadre as well as an MFF expert who served in the Army and an expert British oxygeneer who served in the Royal Air Force. The team also included extremely accomplished civilian parachutists who also brought special skills like exceptional medical experience.

 military free fall

Photo from CPS parachutes (Complete Parachute Solutions)

They assembled in Dubai then flew to Kathmandu, the Capital of Nepal.  Once they reached Syangboche airport, at 12,400 feet, they began training themselves for the task ahead. They had to adjust to low oxyen and high altitude. They hiked narrow rocky trails with what Fox described as “steep inclines and rapid descents.” It was probably breathtakingly beautiful, but extremely dangerous. One wrong move and death awaited.

Taking down the records

Just what these warriors like. Imagine landing on a tiny ledge on the side of a craggy mountain that is over thousands of feet higher and colder than the highest US airport. They were hanging on mountains that are 2,500 feet taller than the highest mountain in the continental U.S..

One record fell with Marine Corps sniper veteran Caylen Wojcik. He went into the mission with only 50 parachute jumps and successfully landed at 12,500 feet after the aggressive training.

The team then split into two teams. The first team had to race up the mountain ahead of the next team. It was tasked with recon, and prepping the landing areas for the jumpers. They also pushed their MTOS (Multi-purpose Tactical Oxygen System) gear to its limits.

Most of that first team were expert Marine Corps veterans who are also trainers for Magpul CORE, which trains both military and civilians in firearms manipulation, hunting, and fieldcraft.

The next world record was made by U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Captain Cody Carroll, who made the highest combat equipment parachute landing ever achieved by a U.S. Marine. According to the Fox report, he carried a 70 pound rucksack and his oxygen equipment.

Marty Rhett and Hunter Williams set a tandem record for the highest combat equipment tandem jump in history when they landed at 16,850 feet with their 70 lb ruck sacks and MTOS equipment.

Civilian skydiving instructor Tom Noonan and British armed forces veteran Ted Atkins also set a tandem record during the mission.

Mission accomplished

In spite of the rugged conditions, the men survived unscathed from the experience. State of the art gear, expert knowledge, and highly skilled operators were the reasons the trip worked so well.

You can listen to a podcast from interviews with the team on i-tunes with Allison Barrie, a Fox Firepower columnist and war expert.