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3/2 Marines attack Mojave Viper

13 Apr 2006 | Lance Cpl. Ray Lewis

After a seven-month deployment to Iraq last year, the Marines of 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment are going back to Iraq, but not without embarking in some of the best training the Marine Corps has to offer.Last week, the North Carolina-based unit comprised of more than 1,000 Marines and Sailors packed their sea bags and headed here for Mojave Viper. The month long pre-deployment desert training is designed to prepare Marines for combat situations when they are deployed. “Out here you can focus one hundred percent on training,” said Sgt. Derrick A. Popham, a rifleman with Company K, 3rd Bn., 2nd Marines. “You don’t get distracted with everyday life or family issues. It’s also an opportunity to build camaraderie with your Marine unit.” While here, Marines and Sailors receive extensive training on a variety of subjects, from improvised explosive devices to foot patrols in urban environments to convoy operations, all while in a live-fire in environment.After the training, the battalion will deploy for a second time in support of Operation Iraq Freedom. Although it may be the second deployment for some Marines and Sailors, for many, it will be their first.“It’s my first time going to Iraq,” said Lance Cpl. Jeremiah Heredia, a supply warehouseman with Headquarters and Service Company, 3rd Bn., 2nd Marines. “Mojave Viper gives you that experience; what to expect when I deploy.”The Marines traded their humid climate for a hot and dusty one, but the Marines say the trade was well worth it. “It’s a good thing,” said Staff Sgt. Trevor S. Wargo, an infantry staff noncommissioned officer for Company I, 3rd Bn., 2nd Marines. “You never want to go to Iraq unprepared.”