During my second enlistment I was an Instructor in Hawaii for 3rd Marines. When we were conducting the HRST Master Course (Helicopter Rope Suspension Training) we always set one day aside for motivating training. It was the day before graduation we would conduct a wet SPIE. (Special Insertion & Extraction). It is simply hanging under a helicopter dangling on the bottom of a rope and enjoying the ride. A wet SPIE is doing the same thing except you get extracted from the water.

This is where my story begins. The helicopter comes in and makes a dry pass (test run) to see how the winds are and how to make the minor adjustments to keep a steady ride. We would look out and get a visual with the safety boat. On the next pass the pilot calls back and gives the go on a hot pass (we're jumping out this time). The helicopter comes in at 20 feet at 5 knots and we jump in pairs of two into "the drink". Now I am in the environment I love so much. For some reason the winds were picking up.

On the next pass, the pilot was having some difficulty keeping the helicopter steady for us to snap in to the SPIE line. He was waved off. In the meantime, I was one of the two (since I am a strong swimmer) helping to zone and ground guide (from the water) the helicopter so the pilot can use me as a reference to center the bird over the target group. As the helicopter was coming around for the 4th time I looked down under me (in the water) and noticed a little shark. The markings resembled that of a tiger shark but it was too small. The pilot missed this next pass. I looked back down and noticed about a 5 ft tiger shark BUT now I am realizing that it is still some distance below me.

I kept watching and wouldn't you know that it just kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger? I am not really sure the exact size but it seemed to be at least twice my size. As the nose of this beast moved at me I kicked away and hit it on the nose with my fin and turbo boosted toward the group signaling that a shark was in the water. At the same time the helicopter was moving in, the safety boat was trying to research what I was signaling and everyone else had only one thing on their minds. It was a miracle, EVERYONE was snapped in this time.

They didn't mind getting dragged through the water for what seemed 50 yards until we actually lifted out of the water. I was finally snapped in at about 50 plus feet in the air. We all looked down and most of us saw that we were a part of the food chain for a brief while in our lives. All in a days work. A day in the life of the grunts.

Semper Fi!