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Standard Bearers learn about machine guns in the field

14 May 2009 | Cpl. Skyler Tooker

Marines and sailors from Headquarters Battalion, 1st Marine Division may hold support military occupational specialties, but they are now able to apply concentrated fire on an enemy position, thanks to training they received in the austere environment of Quackenbush Range here.

The machine-gun portion was part of a two-week long training operation called Desert Scorpion from through April 27 to May 9.

Instructors from Division Schools taught the Marines and sailors the operations of the M-2 .50 caliber machine gun, MK-19 heavy grenade launcher and the M-240B machine gun.

The M-2 .50 caliber machine gun class covered everything from changing the barrel to checking the headspace and timing on the weapon to making sure it is ready to fire properly.

“I absolutely love this kind of training,” said Cpl. Seth C. Allen, 30, a fiscal clerk with Supply, HQ Bn., who is from Waco, Texas. “I think every Marine should get this training while in the Marine Corps.”

The second course covered the MK-19 heavy grenade launcher, which shoots 40mm grenades up to 2,212 meters. This machine gun can launch as many as 40 high-explosive grenades per minute.

“This is not my first time learning about these weapons systems, but it is always good to get a refresher every once in a while,” said Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Castaneda, 21, a Marine Corps integrated maintenance management support clerk with Communications Company, HQ Bn., who is from Phoenix. “The classes were good. They got straight to the point, giving us all the information that we needed.”

The final course went over the M-240B medium machine gun, covering how to load and unload the weapon, correct a weapon malfunction and proper weapon maintenance.

After the lectures were over, everyone had a chance to do some hands-on training with the different weapon systems that were covered.

“The reason we give this course is that you never know when you have to use one of these weapon systems,” said Sgt. Brice J. Schlueter, 24, an instructor with Division Schools who is from Rockford, Ill. “If the Marines and sailors could take one thing away from the class, it should be how to load and unload the weapon systems properly.”

“We are all non-infantry Marines, and the best thing about everything we got from the machine-gun training is the knowledge to operate the weapons system correctly,” said Allen. “We never get a chance to use these weapons, but if we find ourselves in the position to use them, we will be ready.”

That afternoon the Marines and sailors loaded up in seven-ton trucks and convoyed out to a known-distance small-arms firing range to obtain the battle-sight zero on their weapons, perform combat marksmanship proficiency training, and become more familiar with their own weapon systems and sights, whether they fired the M-16A4 service rifle or the M-4 carbine.

With the machine gun courses fresh in their heads and the adrenaline pumping from the live-fire range, the Marines and sailors returned to camp more confident in their abilities to accurately engage an enemy should the need arise during future deployments.