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Communications Company goes back to basics

22 Apr 2009 | Lance Cpl. Zachary J. Nola 1st Marine Division

Marines from Communications Company, Headquarters Battalion, re-familiarized themselves with land navigation skills during a 72-hour training exercise here at Camp Margarita Apr. 15.

“Comm. company is trying to maintain their basic Marine skills in land nav and maintain their proficiency,” said 1st Lt. Martin Minnich, 33, the executive officer for Comm. Co., from Leavenworth, Kan.

The training was a refresher for all devil dogs involved, but was oriented to those Marines in the company who will be tasked with operating tactical vehicles when deployed.

“The focus is for all the drivers in the company, so they can take a map, orientate themselves somewhere on the planet, and get from point a to point b,” said Minnich. “It’s always in preparation to get the Marine in-country and make him an asset to whatever unit he is going to be attached with.”

Marines from Division Schools’ scout sniper program aided in coordinating the training and helped the warriors of Comm. Co. reorient themselves with such land navigation skills as map reading and compass manipulation.

While Comm. Co. students worked in buddy teams with the scout snipers on Apr. 14 to solidify their basic knowledge of land navigation, the Apr. 15 operation forced the students to navigate points on a map individually.

“We have 12 points that we each have to find and it’s an individual effort, so you’re by yourself, and the points cover a good 12 grids,” said Cpl. Jeffery Ahern, 22, a communications electronics maintainer with Comm. Co., from Fairbanks, Alaska. “We’ve been through the class on land nav, we’ve learned how to do it, and we have to go out by ourselves, apply our skills and find our points as fast as we can.”

For those Marines in a communications military occupational specialty, land navigation is essential.

“For communications, it’s extremely important, especially if we’re out somewhere that’s unfamiliar,” said Sgt. Donny Sample, 31, the training chief for Comm. Co. “Marines need to know how to navigate around certain obstacles to get to a certain point in order to set up a comm site.”

The remediation in land navigation was not only for the junior Marines of the company, but senior enlisted Marines and officers, as well.

“We have everyone from [privates first class] to sergeants, staff sergeants and officers,” said Sample.

He said that he, too, was benefiting from the refresher.

“The last time I did land nav was at [Marine Combat Training],” said Sample. “So this is a pretty good refresher.”

Ahern, who has participated in prior land navigation exercises, said this training was more extensive and benefitted him greatly.

“This is a pretty good refresher for me and I got the hang of it again” said Ahern. “It’s always good to keep your skills honed.”

The training concluded later that evening after the Marines sharpened their navigation skills during a night exercise similar to the day one and can be confident they are better prepared to support the Marine Corps.

1st Marine Division