In late January, a Marine Reconnaissance Scout died in a multi-mission parachute training accident in Coolidge, Arizona.
“Alex was one in a million. Always had a smile on his face,” said Noelia Davis, the fallen Marine’s cousin.
According to the U.S. Marine Corps Training Command, Cpl. Alejandro “Alex” Romero, 22, died after a “double-bag static line parachute mishap.”
Romero served with Bravo Company, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, and in the III Marine Expeditionary Force based in Okinawa, Japan.
The Marine Corps has suspended all double-bag static line parachuting operations indefinitely, according to the U.S. Marine Corps Training Command.
“Alex was a great person who would give you his last dollar so you could eat,” said Davis. “He was a person who saw the good in all people, and would go the extra mile for others, from spending time with them to saying a prayer for them.”
Congress passed the HR 2810, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in December. It was sponsored in the House of Representatives by Rep. Mac Thornberry, (R.-Tx.), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
The Act included a provision that denied funding for new Marine Corps and Army parachuting equipment until the Secretary of the Navy could provide certification proving that new equipment was necessary.
Thornberry’s office refused comment on the obstruction of funding.
Claude H. Chafin, Communications Director for the House Armed Services Committee told Big League Politics that the amendment was offered by Rep. Richard Hudson (R.-NC.) on the House Floor.
“Members are concerned that the two services are not coordinating the purchase of the [parachute] systems as well as they could, and have not fully justified the need for this particular design of parachute,” Chafin said.
Big League Politics spoke with Hudson’s office and asked why he blocked funding for the new equipment.
“He didn’t,” said Tatum Gibson, Communications Director for Hudson.
“He helped ensure the Marine Corps is not wasting taxpayer dollars by purchasing a new parachute system that they don’t have a demonstrated need for,” she said. “He is also concerned about the lack of testing before the new parachute system is purchased that could jeopardize the safety of the Marines using it.”
Big League Politics spoke with retired Marine Corps 1st Sgt. David C. Danel, the president of the Military Reconnaissance Foundation, who said that the history of the Marine Reconnaissance community goes back to 1940, and its primary mission is to provide intelligence for battlefield commanders, both for divisional commanders and large Marine Expeditionary Force commanders.
“One of those missions is free-fall parachuting into a drop zone which can be 15 to 20 miles away inside enemy territory,” he said.
Danel said that going back decades, the military has been under-funded, and that some Marine Corps parachuting equipment is purchased second-hand from the Army.
He said that the Marine Carps often waits for the Army to prove the effectiveness of the equipment before adopting it themselves.
Danel described Corporal Romero as a very stellar Reconnaissance Marine, and said that his peers thought extremely highly of him.
“He was on the path to becoming a full-fledged, operating Reconnaissance Marine,” Danel said.
Danel’s foundation has raised funds to fly Romero’s teammates from Japan to attend his funeral services at the request of Romero’s family. They raised $16,000 in seven days for plane tickets to bring twelve Marines home for the service.
“If the family asks for something, we try to do everything we can to give it to them.”
Locked and Loaded: Pentagon Grants Soldiers in DC Power to use Lethal Force
The National Guard have been authorized to use lethal force, if needed.
Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy has authorized the twenty thousand National Guard members providing security around the U.S. Capitol to carry lethal weapons as Washington, D.C., braces for Inauguration Day.
“On January 12, 2021, National Guardsmen were given authorization to be armed in support of the U.S. Capitol Police to protect the U.S. Capitol and individual members of Congress and their staff,” according to a statement from the D.C. National Guard, which is commanding Guard forces in the city, including units deployed from six other states, to provide security for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration next week,” the DC National Guard revealed in a statement “This was requested by federal authorities and authorized by the Secretary of the Army.”
The National Guard Bureau declined to specify what weapons troops would carry.
“National Guard members are postured to meet the requirements of the supported civil authorities, up to and including protective equipment and being armed if necessary,” said the statement. “The public’s safety is our top priority.”
Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, told media members on Monday that a force of up to 15,000 will deploy to D.C. with all their issued equipment, including their individual weapons. So if the need arises, “they are close by and they are readily accessible.”
The Pentagon initially authorized up to six thousand two hundred Guard members from Maryland, Virginia, New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania to deploy to D.C. on federal status to maintain security through Inauguration Day.
The history of National Guard members being a part of the presidential inauguration dates back to the first inauguration of President George Washington in 1789.
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