MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- “Five up, two right!” A Marine adjusts his elevation and deflection as he engages his next target at 1,200 meters in the distance.
The roar of Mk-19 grenade launcher and .50 caliber machine gun fire engulfs the area as Marines serving with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, conducted a live-fire exercise on Range 222 here, Sept. 4 and 5.
During the two days of shooting, the Marines fired Mk-19 grenade launchers, .50 caliber machine guns, M249 squad automatic weapons and M240B medium machine guns to crosstrain and refine their skills with each weapon system.
The machine gunners from Alpha Co. fired grenade launchers and heavy machine guns during the first day of shooting, and the riflemen fired SAWs and M240Bs during the second day.
“As machine gunners, we need to be a master at craft of all light, medium and heavy machine guns,” said Sgt. Jack Marino, a machine gun section leader with Alpha Co. and a native of Martinez, Calif. “A lot of the Marines out here shooting are young and haven’t had much time to familiarize themselves with the heavy machine guns. There is only so much you can learn through classes and reading about a weapon system, so today we’re giving the Marines a full hands-on experience.”
A majority of riflemen marksmanship training includes shooting M16A4 service rifles, M4 carbines and M27 Infantry Automatic Rifles, but they are also trained to utilize many weapon systems other than their own.
“To get an opportunity to crosstrain is awesome because riflemen are often times referred to as the jack of all trades,” said Lance Cpl. Ryan Schalles, a team leader with Alpha Co. and a native of Houston. “As the jack of all trades, whether it be a mortar system, shoulder-fired weapon or machine gun, we have to know how to use each weapon system effectively because at any time in a combat zone we may be in a situation where we have to use a certain weapon system to keep our Marines alive.”
The Marines went through extensive classes on weapon safety, maintenance, nomenclature and firing procedures prior to firing on the range. All of the riflemen who attached to the company in the past six months upon completing the School of Infantry had never fired a SAW because it’s no longer included during the rifleman training curriculum at the school since it is now classified as a machine gun.
The Marines were on the range honing their skills to build a good baseline of knowledge and marksmanship across the company so any Marine can get behind a weapon system and feel comfortable utilizing it, said 1st Lt. Marc Hildwein, a platoon commander with Alpha Co. and a native of Chicago.
Each Marine’s shot groups and confidence was evaluated as he fired each weapon during the two days of shooting to form a foundation of accuracy and expertise in the company. A senior Marine was at each weapon to monitor proficiency, give advice and test the Marine shooting it.
After completing the two days of shooting, the company plans to continue marksmanship and infantryman training to maintain deployment readiness.