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First Jump for a Marine

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U.S. Army Airborne School, more commonly known as Jump School, takes place at Ft. Benning, GA.  This is where the majority of military parachutists earn their basic qualification.

The school’s basic jump course is three weeks long, and consists of three phases: Ground, Tower, and Jump.

During Ground Week, students learn the basics of the parachute landing fall (PLF), and how to identify and control (sort of) the direction of their descent.

Tower Week gives the students practice in mass exit (lots of people exiting an aircraft quickly), deploying the combat load, and getting used to the physical shock from the opening canopy.

Jump Week…is when the fun stuff happens: actually parachuting from an aircraft in flight.

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I had the opportunity to go to Jump School as a Marine Corps intelligence officer. I commanded a platoon of ‘radio reconnaissance’ Marines, and our mission required me to be a parachutist.  So off I went to earn my wings.

Here’s what I wrote after my first jump:

Here I am in the third and final week of training: Jump Week.  This week we’ll do five low-level static line aircraft exits.  Two of the jumps must be during the day, and two at night; two must be slick (just the main parachute and reserve), and two must be made with a combat load.  Today, we jumped slick.  Our remaining jumps include 1 day-slick and 1 day-combat; and 1 night-slick and 1 night-combat.

Then we’ll all be basic parachutists.

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Up until now, I haven’t really been nervous.  As we boarded the aircraft, wearing our parachutes and reserves, our helmets, our ankle braces, and some anxious smiles of excitement…I still didn’t really feel nervous.  But I was paying attention to my mental, emotional, and even physical reactions to the whole experience.

It wasn’t until we were fully in flight, and the first team of jumpers exited, that my physiology changed.  Straining to turn and watch the first jumpers prepare to exit, anticipating the commands they received from the jump master, and then seeing them fling themselves out the door on the right side of the craft, I had a cold, hard realization.

I was about to jump out of an airplane!  I got nervous.

Honestly “nervous” isn’t the right word.  Fearful is more appropriate.  This is what I noticed:

  • my heart rate increased, but it felt like it dropped into my stomach;
  • my mouth became dry;
  • my perspective became slightly myopic, internal.

Yeah…those are some physiological effects of fear.

I wasn’t crippled by the fear, though.  It’s not like everyone else on that plane had no fear or anxiety.  We all did.  But we were still going to jump.

And no way, as a Marine, would I chicken out while a bunch of Army guys jumped!

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The C-130 Hercules we were on made a few passes over the drop zone, and vomited out wave after wave of jumpers.  Soon…it was our turn.  We focused on the Jumpmaster, anxiously waiting for his commands.

“Outboard personnel, stand up.”  Those seated against the skin of the C-130 stood up.

“Inboard personnel, stand up.”  Those of us seated on the cargo net in the middle stood up.

“Hook up.” We hooked up, and checked our lines and equipment.  I was the third jumper in the stick.

“One minute!”

The door was open.  I was ten feet from it.  I could feel the warm air coming in, and could smell the C-130’s exhaust.

My heart began to race; my breathing became more rapid.

“Thirty seconds!”

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My heart was pounding, and I made an effort to keep calm by controlling my breathing and, surprisingly, by looking outside.  We were 1250 feet up.  It didn’t look all that daunting, and gazing out at the treetops and fields actually soothed my nerves.

“Stand by!”  The number one jumper was standing at the door, facing out, ready to launch himself from the platform.

“Green Light! Go!”  

Jumper 1, a Marine Corporal stationed at MCAS Cherry Point, disappeared.  Jumper 2, an Army Second Lieutenant stationed at Ft. Benning, shuffled toward the Jumpmaster.  I shuffled forward, too, but kept back about an arm’s length.

Jumper 2 turned to his right and disappeared.

I made eye contact with the Jumpmaster, handed him my static line, and turned.  Step, kick…

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I left the aircraft and was met by a shocking wall of air from my right.

“One thousand.”  I was blown into a horizontal position.

“Two thousand.”  The force of the air tossed my helmet about my head.

“Three thousand.”  I realized my eyes were closed and opened them; I could see the first two jumpers in the air ahead of me.  My chin was tucked to my chest.  My hands clutched the sides of my reserve parachute.

“Four thousand, five thousand.”  I could feel the tug of the deploying parachute catching air.

“Six thousand.”  I reached up to grab my risers, the straps that connected the parachute to the harness on my body.  I looked up to inspect the canopy.  I needed to make sure it had fully deployed and that there were no rips, tears, holes, or broken suspension lines.

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No damage and it was open, but it was twisted.  I grabbed the two risers and pulled them outward away from my head.  I began kicking my legs as if riding a very awkward bicycle.  I spun a couple times until the twist undid itself and the parachute opened fully.

Then…it felt like I was just hovering.

There wasn’t much noise.  All I could really hear was my breathing.  The descent was so smooth, I wasn’t sure I was even moving at all.  I looked around to ensure no other jumper was too close to me, and to get my bearings on where I was in relation to the drop zone.

I was floating straight down.

My landing was great; I executed a perfect PLF.  Then I quickly set to work putting the spent parachute into my aviator kit bag.

I was happy for an uneventful landing.  I could have been dragged by the parachute, landed in a bog, or caught a patch of weird air and dropped harder than expected.  Easy day for me, though.

I picked up my aviator kit bag with spent parachute inside, and headed for the rally point.

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I had completed my first parachute jump.  And got paid to do it.  Not a bad day.

 

Jeremiah graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with the Class of 2009, and went on to become a Marine Corps intelligence officer.  Prior to the Naval Academy, Jeremiah was a Marine Corps Sergeant.  He has deployments in the Pacific, and to Afghanistan.

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Sandboxx: Security Overview

Do you practices safe SECS?

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In a world where mobile apps, social media and the military community converge, the gravity of proper security design is paramount. The rise of cyber threats and ignorant use of technology are merely natural extensions of human nature. Luckily we, the Red White and Blue, have THE BEST security engineers and security architects in the world. These men and women work for our government and public/private organizations such as Amazon, Google, Endgame and the United States Cyber Command. They expend immense resources keeping our nation and the rest of the world safe on a massively global scale. Sandboxx is one of these organizations.

Before we get into details, a little acronym’ing for those new to these terms. For you seasoned SECs’ers, scroll down to Sandboxx’s Security below.

PII – As defined by Title 44 of the United States Code: “Personally identifiable information is information that can be used on its own or with other information to identify, contact, or locate a single person, or to identify an individual in context.”

Example: Your name and credit card on the restaurant’s receipt from Tuesday’s lunch.

friend request.jpgOPSEC – As defined by Defense Technical Information Center: “Operations security is a term originating in U.S. military jargon, as a process that identifies critical information to determine if friendly actions can be observed by enemy intelligence, determines if information obtained by adversaries could be interpreted to be useful to them, and then executes selected measures that eliminate or reduce adversary exploitation of friendly critical information.”

Example: Your route to Tuesday’s lunch.

PERSECPersonal Security – Focuses on protecting information such as PII.

Example: Refraining from publishing a selfie with your location on Twitter.

INFOSEC – As defined by Title 44 of the United States Code: – “Information security, sometimes shortened to InfoSec, is the practice of preventing unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification, inspection, recording or destruction of information. It is a general term that can be used regardless of the form the data may take.”

Example: Tuesday’s lunch crowd, typically…

Most non-technical folks think PII and security vulnerabilities/failures live within remote mountain server locations or involve hackers at your local coffee shop out to steal your credit card information. As much as a good conspiracy captures our minds, the majority of problems are actually caused by ourselves.11x17 OPSEC officer.jpg

As a nation, we have come a long way with technology and education to mitigate these risks. Nonetheless, humans are prone to making mistakes and operate under faulty assumptions about information, the platforms we use, and how data is stored and used. We must think ahead about how our actions and information may affect us in the future. Practice prudent, safe SECs!

Sandboxx’s Security Priorities

We are vigilant in hardening all software components to protect our users from attacks and threats. Sandboxx’s security infrastructure is built with many risks in mind, including those made by human error. The following are our top priorities:loose_lips_might_sink_ships

M1 – Weak server side controls

M2 – Insecure data storage

M3 – Insufficient transport layer protection

M4 – Unintended data leakage

M5 – Poor authorization and authentication

M6 – Broken cryptography

M7 – Client side injection

M8 – Security decisions via untrusted inputs

M9 – Improper session handling

M10 – Lack of binary protections

APP SECURITY

Device is lost/stolen?

  • Data at-rest is encrypted and obfuscated using military grade encryption algorithms

Packet Sniffing

  • Device connects to the cloud using TLS (Data link connection)

Man In The Middle Attacks

  • Packets are not attributable – Instead of user’s email, we use a long user id (GUID)

Identity Theft

  • silence-means-securityAll data integration with other services happens on the backend
  • All payment information is stored on third party gateway (Stripe/PayPal – PII and PCI compliant)

APP PRIVACY

Private By Default

  • All user data, posts, likes and comments are private by default

Self-Policing

  • User can view another user’s profile only after they connect, which requires a two way handshake

Data Masking

  • User addresses are masked to protect them from location specific information

Location Agnostic

  • All geotags are removed from pictures posted on the app

Content Moderation

  • Inappropriate content can be reported which will be removed from the system after verification

PCI Compliance

  • Stripe/PayPal have been audited by a PCI-certified auditor, and is certified to PCI Service Provider Level 1. This is the most stringent level of certification available.

API/Database

Data is securely uploaded/downloaded to our servers via SSL endpoints using the HTTPS protocol.

Only object owners have access to data resources.

We use Server Side Encryption (SSE) to encrypt data stored-at-rest. Our server provides the encryption technology for both SSE and SSE-C.

Our servers are SSAE-16 cloud security certified.

Our servers have built in protection agains Query Injection, Cross Site Scripting and Cross Site Request Forgery.

SlaySession #17 – Democratic Workout

Since everyone wants to comment on the election, I figured I would let you decide your own fate today. You know because we’re a democracy and stuff. Sweat is the fuel of life… Always be willing to grow!

Warm-up

Stationary Squats: 10 all the way up and to 90 Degrees (4 times)

Or:

Stationary Squat Jumps: 10 90 degree squats with a jump at the top (3 times)


Push-Ups:
 Set of 15 (4 times)

Or:

Diamond Push-Ups: Set of 10 (3 times)

Inch Worms:  For 10 yards (3 times)

Or:

 Inch Worms w/ Push-Ups: For 10 yards (2 times)

SlayTime

1/4 mile Build Ups: Start the 1/4 mile at 45% and work your way up to 75% at the halfway mark. Then the last turn should be a sprint. Do it 6 times.

Pull-up Burpees: Just like it sounds. Get on your face, and do a burpee up to the pull-up bar. Then do a pull-up. Do this 7-10 times. Then rest 30 secs and repeat. Do this 5 times.

Bicycle Crunches:
15 four count. You can pause where you need to finish. Do it 4 times.

Shoulder Press w/ 20 lb Kettle Bell/Ammo Can: Do 20 reps at first. Wait 1 min. Then do a max set. Meaning as many as you can without stopping. After your shoulders are completely destroyed wait 3 mins and do another 20 rep set.

Now I know I said you get to choose this workout, buts let’s be realistic. I was never going to let that happen. Suck it up and water the earth with your sweat.

SlaySession #16- 108 Years of Pain!

Here’s for all you Cubs fans… and for all you Indians fans to help you forget last night. Time to start the healing… for both teams. Sweat is the fuel of life… Always be willing to grow!

 

Warm-up

Build-Up Sprints: it’s 108 total yards, start at 10% intensity and increase 10% every 10 yards. (3 times)
Side Straddle Hops:
108 total
Push-Ups:
 108 Total. You can break it up until you get to 108.
Arm Circles: 108 combined between the four different variations of arm circles you can do

SlayTime

108 M Sprints: The extra 8 is important. Push even harder that last 8 meters. You can guesstimate the extra 8 meters. Do it 8 times.

Lunges: You guessed it: 108 yards’ worth (Twice)

Spiderman Crawls: No way you can do this 108 times. So just do 18 reps 6 times.

Bicycle Crunches:
108 total reps. You can pause where you need to finish.

Pull-ups: Because I know that none of you can do 108 pull-ups like I can, I will allow you to do 10.8 pull-ups (Three Times)

SlaySession #15 – Therapeutic Thursday

Yea right… it’s therapeutic to me knowing how much it hurts, and that’s it. Sweat is the fuel of life… Always be willing to grow!

Warm-up

Mountain Climbers– 20-4 count reps (Twice)
Frog Jumps
– 15 yds there and back (Three Times)
Push-Ups
–  15 4 count (Three Times)
Arm Circles– 20 four count (Three Times)

SlayTime

Mountain Climber Burpees – 20 Total (Three times)

100 meter sprints – First sprint at 75%, then all the rest full out 100%. Do 10 of them.

Push-up Suicides – 5 yard suicides to the 30 and back with a 5 push-ups at each line (Twice)

30 lb shoulder press- Find an ammo can and fill it with dirt. Then lift it over your head 20 times. Do it 3 times.

Don’s special add-on: (Note: only if able to)
Start with a 100 M sprint into 20 mountain climber burpees, then do 20 more shoulder presses with the ammo can or equivalent.

Terrible Thursday – SlaySession #14

Terrible starts with a T, just like Thursday does. Get it, see what I did there? Time to get to the Terrible part… and you’re welcome. Sweat is the fuel of life… Always be willing to grow!

Warm-up

Frankensteins– 15 yds (Three Times)
Inch Worms
– 15 yds (Four Times)
Split Jack Forward
–  15 4 count (Three Times)
Donkey Kicks– 20 yds (Four Times)

SlayTime

8 Count Body Builders w/ Burpee – 20 Total (Twice)

17 mins of jogging at 65% speed – Distance doesn’t matter. What matters is that as soon as your done you go right into the next workout.

Inch Worm w/ Push-ups – 10 yards there and back ( Twice)

Burpee Suicides – Exactly how it sounds… Amazing. Your goal is to reach the 25 yard line and back doing a total of 10 burpees with the traditional suicides.

Don’s special add-on: (Note: only if able to)
Give yourself some time to catch your breath first. Do 15 – 8 Count Body Builders w/ Burpees, and then go right into a Burpee Suicide except this time go for 30 yards and 12 burpees.

Thank Me Thursday – Slay Session #13

Why sure, I have no problem giving you something to thank me for. It should be lots of fun, (pause for effect) for me to know how much pain you’ll be in. Sweat is the fuel of life… Always be willing to grow!

Warm-up

Push-ups – 15 four count  ( Twice)
Carioca
– 30 yds, switch half way (Twice)
1/4 Mile jog
– 50% speed
Bear Crawl – 20 yards (Twice)

SlayTime

Knee to Elbow Push-ups – Knee to Elbow both Legs and then a Push-Up.  Do a set of 15 (Three Times)

40 Yd Prone to Sprints – Just like it sounds (10 Times)

Kettle Bell Diagonal Lunges – Keep Kettle Bell in the center of your chest, and do 15 per leg (Three Times)

Burpee Pull-ups –  Max Reps (4 Times)

Bicycle Crunches – Four count fully extended 20 reps (Three times)

Don’s special add-on: (Note: only if able to)

Find some stairs that don’t look fun to run up, and run up them 3 times.