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MWSS-371 desk jockeys practice navigation

By Lance Cpl. Michael Nease | | August 19, 2004

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Marines of Marine Wing Support Squadron-371 Headquarters Company practiced land navigation and radio skills Friday at the Lake Martinez Land Navigation Course.

The training exercise gave the Marines a chance to get out from behind their desks and sharpen their skills in preparation for future deployments to the middle east and other hot spots around the world, said 2nd Lt. Catherine Giordano, H&S Company maintenance management officer.

"Our commanding officer, Lt. Col. (John J.) Broadmeadow, emphasizes tactical training, plus my job and my Marines' jobs are (administration)  we ride desks all day  so it's good to get out of the shop for some real training," said Giordano.

The Marines received classes on land navigation and radio procedures with the PRC-119 field radio on station prior to the exercise.

When they arrived at the course, Master Sgt. David Cortazzo, the squadron gunnery sergeant, who also runs its ground combat training, broke them into teams and gave each team a lensatic compass, grid map, protractor, radio and coordinates for their starting point and first checkpoint.

Cortazzo then challenged them to find four checkpoints spread out over the rocky, mountainous terrain.

"The terrain out here is just like Iraq," said Cortazzo. "There's a lot of good terrain features that give the Marines good practical application. (The Marines) get to come out here, apply (what they've learned) and realize their deficiencies in land navigation. We help them correct those deficiencies and realize that next time they should pay closer attention in class."

This training is especially important for Marines who work indoors, he said.

"They don't normally get the opportunity to come out and train," said Cortazzo. "That's why a lot of emphasis goes on those Marines that are working in the warehouse or offices. We bring them out here to keep their skills up. They will deploy. They'll change gears from working in an office or warehouse to manning a fighting position, defensive position or working on a security detail when we go to Iraq."

Cortazzo expressed the importance of land navigation and radio skills.

"If you can't navigate, you can't get your fireteam, platoon or company from point A to point B," said Cortazzo. "Land navigation is fundamental because if you can't navigate, communicate, and if you can't shoot, then you're not getting paid to do the job you're supposed to be doing as a rifleman."

Though the weather was hot and the terrain tough, most of the Marines enjoyed the opportunity to train and saw its importance.

"This gives me a chance to do something I don't normally do  it's good stuff," said Sgt. Shawn Sexton, wireman. "I definitely think land (navigation) is one of the fundamentals of Marine Corps knowledge."

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