MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- Marines from Marine Wing Support Squadron 371 spent the day firing .50-caliber machine guns and 9mm pistols at the Yuma Proving Grounds June 29.
The security team Marines have been going to the range for training for their upcoming deployment to Iraq in February, said 2nd Lt. John A. Fulton, MWSS-371 logistics officer. Some of the jobs of the security team include providing security for convoys and explosive ordinance disposal operations and patrolling.
Many Marines only get the opportunity to shoot once a year for the required marksmanship training and they are only shooting the M-16A2 rifle.
“Marksmanship is a standard skill for Marines,” said Fulton. “It’s also a perishable skill, especially with the larger more complicated weapons such as the .50-caliber machine gun. We get them out here every few weeks to make sure they keep up with their marksmanship and it also helps to keep unit cohesion.”
The Marines started out the day later than scheduled because two of the humvees breaking down, said Fulton. It put the training behind schedule, but it wasn’t going to stop the Marines from getting to fire the weapons.
“We usually bring out a few more of the machine guns such as the M-240G and M-9 for the Marines to shoot, but because of the problems we had with the humvees, time would not allow for that to happen today,” said Fulton.
Staff Sgt. David Ramirez, MWSS-371 production chief, demonstrated the correct ways to mount the .50-caliber machine gun onto the humvee and to tripods on the ground. He also showed the Marines how to change the barrels. After each pair of Marines fired, they had to correctly change out the barrels just like they will be doing in Iraq.
It’s important to pay attention and practice these types of procedures, said Ramirez. The consequences for not knowing what to do can lead to serious injuries and weapon malfunctions.
“Getting to fire the weapons on a regular basis gives the Marines an opportunity to practice and it’s always fun getting to shoot the .50-caliber,” said Cpl. Daniel C. Fletcher, MWSS-371 motor transport operator. “It keeps them familiar with the weapon.”
The day starts early for the Marines and they spend the whole day firing out on the range. Enough ammunition is provided to allow Marines shoot several times a piece on both the tripod and humvee.
“Marines like coming out to the range to shoot the .50-caliber because it’s all hands on, all day long,” said Cpl. Gerard T. Crepezzi, MWSS-371 radio operator. “It benefits them more because they can really spend a lot on the weapon.”
“The training will continue up until the squadron deploys,” said Fulton. “Keeping the Marines familiar with the weapons and procedures will assure that their deployment will be successful.”
“We get some great training out at the range shooting the .50-caliber,” said Fletcher. “Not only that, but Marines always get excited whenever they get the chance blow stuff up.”