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Cpl. Dennis D. Merritt, a small-arms technician with Headquarters and Service Company, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 5, prepares a M240E1 machinegun to be fired by Marines of his company at Camp Korean Village, Iraq, Oct. 4. "We need to make sure the weapons we issue are ready to go. If something malfunctions during firing, we also need to be there to fix it and get the gun back on the line," said Merritt, 21, from South Lake Tahoe, Calif.::r::::n::

Photo by Cpl. Dean Davis

Armorers keep Highlanders’ instruments of war finely tuned

7 Oct 2008 | Cpl. Dean Davis

A rifle is vital to the success of a Marine.   

Marines constantly clean their rifles to keep them operational in the event they are needed.  To assist Marines in maintaining rifles and other weapons, armorers provide precise workmanship and weapons expertise.

“The work we do is vital to the success of this unit, especially as an infantry battalion,” said Cpl. Dennis D. Merritt, a small-arms technician with Headquarters and Service Company, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 5.  “Without well-functioning weapons, what would we be?  With all that 1st LAR Battalion is able to do, we as armorers need to know weapon systems in and out.”

Armorers are responsible for repairing, maintaining and improving everything from pistols to rifles to grenade launchers with meticulous care.

“Sometimes, just by either what the Marine tells us or a sound we hear (in the weapon’s function), we can diagnose and fix the problem right away,” said Merritt, 21, from South Lake Tahoe, Calif. “With certain parts, you have to be delicate, but basically it’s a pretty tough piece of metal. If we can’t see the problem right off the bat, we just run through its operation cycle and try to figure it out.”

An armorer’s work day often starts early and ends late because before and after Marines leave the camp, the armorer needs to be there to issue, repair, replace and eventually receive weapons back.   

“There are no set hours for us. We come in early and leave late because even if we aren’t fixing something, we’re keeping the weapons maintained with technical and pre-fire inspections,” said Lance Cpl. Nigel A. Vereen, 19, a small-arms technician with Headquarters and Service Company, 1st LAR Bn., from Tabor City, S.C. “We try to prevent problems from happening by inspecting the weapons and thinking ahead.”

The armorer’s of 1st LAR Bn. take satisfaction in knowing that they play a key role in the success of the battalion, nicknamed “Highlanders,” and being part of a team here.

“I think there is a different satisfaction in this profession than in other hands-on jobs,” Merritt said. “Rather than working on parts of things, like with a tank or ship, we work on the entire weapon. (We then) put that weapon in the hands of a well-trained Marine.”


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