MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- A course designed to train and qualify Marines to be Marine Corps Martial Arts Program trainers began Nov. 28 at Ramada Field here and is scheduled to end Friday.
The course is a joint venture between the squadrons on station. It is meant to increase the rate at which Marines advance in MCMAP by providing the station with more qualified instructors.
This is the first instructor training course to be run on station, said Staff Sgt. Curtis L. Belfield, Marine Aircraft Group 13 personnel support detachment electronic key management systems manager and one of the organizers of the course. Previously, Marines had to be sent to another Marine Corps installation such as Camp Pendleton, Calif., to become qualified as a MCMAP instructor.
Each training day lasts from 7 a.m. until about 7 p.m. The hours are long and the training is hard, but all of the trainees are volunteers who wanted to be able to share their knowledge of MCMAP with other Marines.
“Some bodies can’t take it every day, twenty-four/seven, some can,” said Sgt. Phillip N. Belcher Jr., micro miniature repair technician and MCMAP instructor trainer. “It’s mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
“We start when it’s dark and we finish when it’s dark,” said Sgt. Matthew Parks Land, hybrid test set technician and MCMAP instructor trainer.
One of the reasons instructor training was never done here previously was due to a lack of certified instructor trainers. This problem was solved by bringing in Marines from the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth, Texas.
Staff Sgt. Jeremy D. McCammit, Land and Belcher are all Marines currently assigned to Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 41, stationed at NASJRB Fort Worth, Texas. All three volunteered to come here to train instructors.
The instructor trainers were asked about their availability and interest in leading a class here, and all responded with enthusiasm.
“I’m always in the mood to help out Marines,” said Belcher, a native of Weaubleau, Mo. “It was a quick decision. I didn’t have to think about it too much.”
“I really enjoy being out here among active duty Marines, training active duty Marines and getting back in the active duty mindset,” said Land. “It’s been a great time.”
There were some problems with equipment initially, but the motivation of the Marines organizing the course would not let that hold them back.
“Being with (Marine Aircraft Group 13), we don’t have as much gear and we’re still trying to get the gear on order,” said Belfield, a native of Richsquare, N.C. “The MAG supports all the squadrons, and we don’t have enough gear to accommodate that, so we’re having to combine gear from the squadrons.”
The Marines organizing the course were assisted in gathering equipment from multiple squadrons partially because Marines from those squadrons are attending the course, said Belfield.
Some of the training is hazardous. There are some Marines who have been dropped from the course due to injuries, but safety is one of the course’s primary lessons.
“We had twenty-three (Marines) when we started, and now we’re down to eighteen,” said Belfield. “It comes down to paying attention to the real simple stuff and making sure you’re doing the techniques correctly to minimize injury.”
“We try to keep it as safe as we can, but it’s inherently dangerous,” said Land. “There are going to be some minor accidents.”
MCMAP, like most martial arts, focuses not only on physical discipline, but also on character and mental discipline.
“Just because you go through the course for three weeks does not mean automatically that you’re going to be a green belt instructor,” said Land. “Nothing’s guaranteed.”
Trainees need to not only learn all of the techniques properly, but they also need to demonstrate to the instructors their maturity as a person to pass.
As another example of the Marine Corps’ functioning as a whole to accomplish the mission, the station will soon have a new group of MCMAP instructors ready to train other Marines on station, keeping them ready to fight.
“I think it’s awesome that we use Marines from a different state to come here to train us,” said Belfield. “(Their response to our request was) no questions asked, good to go, we’ll be there.”