MCAS YUMA, Ariz. -- A group of Marines from Marine Wing Support Squadron-371 participated in a live-fire convoy training exercise at Yuma Proving Ground's middle east cross country course Sept. 21.
This was one of the many training exercises the Sand Sharks have conducted for the past two months to prepare themselves in event of a deployment.
"Up to this point we have not done any live-fire exercises," said 2nd Lt. Sean Glenn, MWSS-371 motor transportation officer. "The purpose of today's exercise is to familiarize the Marines from MWSS-371 with the employment of weapons from tactical vehicles."
The live-fire exercise gave the Marines an opportunity to shoot various weapons from a new location and position.
"The Marines were able to fire the M-16A2 service rifle, the M203 grenade launcher and the M249 squad automatic weapon from the back of a 7-ton vehicle. They also shot the M2 .50 caliber machine gun from ring mounts on top of a 7-ton and (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle)," said Glenn.
The training started in the early morning with the Marines drawing their weapons from the armory. At 6 a.m., they met in the MWSS-371 motor transportation parking lot. The Marines were then transported by 7-tons and HMMWVs to the middle east course. Once they arrived, ammunition was passed out.
In conjunction with Yuma Proving Grounds, the course was set up with three different ranges following one path, said Glenn.
Each range consisted of several targets. The furthest targets were barrels for the M2 .50 caliber machine guns, and closer to the convoy were the silhouette targets for the M249 and M-16A2. At each range, the targets were placed closer and at different angles.
"At the first two positions there were two strings of fire," said Glenn. "Then at the last position there was around 10 strings of fire. Our focus today was to train all the Marines on all the weapons, and I believe we did that for about 95 percent of the Marines here."
The live-fire exercise was productive because it was the first time most of the MWSS-371 Marines had shot any weapon besides the M-16A2 service rifle since Marine Combat Training, added Glenn.
"It was nice to shoot other weapons besides the M-16," said Sgt. Athit Timchum, MWSS-371 supply administration chief. "My favorite weapon was the .50 caliber machine gun, because it was one of the weapons that shot accurately despite its size."
"It was motivating learning how to assemble and disassemble these weapons," said Cpl. James Siale, field mess cook.
In addition to learning how to shoot different weapon systems, the training taught Marines what to expect if confronted with shooting a weapon from a tactical vehicle.
"This training was good to let the individual Marines find out that it is not as simple to shoot from a vehicle as it may seem," said Glenn. "That way, in case they deploy, they know what to expect."
"At first, I was a little nervous. But once I took that first shot it all started to click," said Siale. "This was very different than firing on the range. Here there is no stability or natural point of aim."
"I feel more comfortable having done this exercise in case I am ever in the same situation later on," said Timchum.