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Twentynine Palms, California
Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command and Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center
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Cpl. John A. Dorn, a rifleman with Combined Anti-Armor Team Red, Weapons Co., 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines enters his humvee before leading a convoy out of Camp Wilson June 19. The 23-year-old Marine from Mitchell, SD was part of a convoy transporting snipers to Range 400 to participate in a training exercise during Mojave Viper.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Sean P. Cummins

3/7 tames Viper, awaits deployment

10 Jul 2008 | Lance Cpl. Sean P. Cummins Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

After a month of life-like training in the sweltering desert heat at Twentynine Palms, Calif., Marines and sailors with 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, completed Mojave Viper, a month-long pre-deployment training evolution, July 10.

The training package gave Marines and sailors the opportunity to battle against role-playing opponents and grueling heat to prepare them for their deployment to Iraq later this year.

“The goal is more or less to qualify the Marines with all the skill sets that they need to perform at a higher level – basically, to be brilliant at the basics,” said 1st Sgt. Elvis Tate, the senior enlisted Marine for Headquarters and Service Company.

H&S Company’s primary goal throughout Mojave Viper was to support the maneuvering companies logistically, administratively, and medically.

During Mojave Viper, the Marines completed improvised explosive device awareness training, performed casualty evacuation drills, and ran convoys across the Middle Eastern-esque terrain of the Combat Center’s training area.

An aspect stressed during the training is to pay attention to IED classes and drink plenty of water, said Cpl. Shawn Hernandez, a rifleman with India Company, 3/7.

“The more knowledge you get, the better you’ll be,” said the 29-year-old Los Angeles native.

Temperatures at Camp Wilson have reached 110 degrees on some days during their 28-day training in the Hi-Desert.  Even though 3/7 is based out of Twentynine Palms, the Marines still have to condition themselves being in the heat all day.

“It’s the mental thing that everyone has to get through their heads to be prepared for [Iraq],” said Lance Cpl. Andrew L. Narber, a 21-year-old administrative clerk with H&S Company.

Young Marines getting ready for their first deployment benefit from Mojave Viper by further developing their skills and applying them to real-to-life scenarios.

“You’ve got to expect the unexpected because you know what is going to happen out there,” said Narber from Chariton, Iowa.

The exercises Marines perform during Mojave Viper are about making sure everybody knows what to do before they step foot in Iraq and conduct combat operations and missions.

“Pay attention to the small things. It’s the small things that will get you in trouble and get you hurt,” Tate said.

For now, the Marines of 3/7 are continuing their training back home and staying focused on their upcoming deployment.

Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms