MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- More than 25 Marines from Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, mostly sergeants or below, squeezed the triggers of a variety of domestic and foreign weaponry Friday at Adair Range during a professional military education session.
Heard at the range were the sounds of from weapons ranging from the small-arms chatter of an Uzi submachine gun to the more ominous roar of the M2 .50-caliber machine gun.
The purpose of the PME was to familiarize the Marines with the different types of weaponry available to friends and foes and give them the opportunity to fire some rounds "downrange."
The Marines who participated said they were excited about the opportunity to learn about the weapons, and especially to fire them.
"I wanted to come out here mainly to see what other countries had to offer as far as weaponry," said Sgt. Corey Medlin, H&HS squadron barracks sergeant. "I wanted to learn some characteristics of weapons I wasn't familiar with."
All of the weapons are owned by private collectors who brought their firearms out to the PME to give the Marines the chance to fire hot lead at Adair's sandy berms. Most of the weapons came from the collections of Lance Cpl. David Skinner, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron-13 and Maj. John Capps, station logistics officer.
While all the weapons held the Marines' interest, the most popular were the Kalashnikov AK-47, MP-5 submachine gun, and Barrett .50-caliber sniper rifle. The anticipation of handling the big guns was clear from the eager looks on their faces.
"Most Marines, after they get out of 'boot camp' and especially when they get stationed with the Wing, don't get the chance to shoot any other weapons," said Cpl. Michael Heacock, station weather observer, who has a small weapons collection of his own. "I'm looking forward to firing the Uzi and the Barrett because you don't get to see those often."
Before the ranges went hot, Skinner along with Capps and Maj. Lou Miranda, station anti-terrorism force protection officer gave a class with brief descriptions of each of the weapons' history, capabilities and functions. Some of the weapons on display were classic antiques, but Skinner made it clear that the dust on the barrel doesn't make them harmless.
"If you take anything from this, realize that they are still viable weapons," Skinner said. "They can still be used by you, but also by the enemy. You may need to pick one up and use it at some point, and it's good to have a little bit of familiarity with it."
Each of the Marines, even those who didn't fire a weapon, expressed satisfaction with the valuable learning experience.
"It was great just to be in a learning environment with other Marines and learn about weapons we might see out there someday," Medlin said.