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Spent .50 caliber shell casings lay on the ground as Lance Cpl. Chris Cartwright, a rifleman with Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, fires rounds down range July 19 at Army Ammunition Depot Hawthorne, Nev.

Photo by Lance Cpl. M. C. Nerl

Weapons Co. Marines unload, show clear

29 Jun 2009 | Lance Cpl. M. C. Nerl

The Marines of Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, shot all of their special weapons June 18 through 20 at Army Ammunition Depot Hawthorne, Nev., as part of the battalion’s final weapons firing exercise.

The company trained its Marines in individual and unit skills, and practiced multiple missions with weapons systems associated with their military occupational specialties in order to improve the unit’s core competency overall, said Capt. Jeremiah Leibowitz, the company commanding officer, and a native of San Antonio.

“Being reservists, we don’t get a lot of time behind our guns, missiles or [mortar] tubes,” Leibowitz said. “We like to take the opportunity when we can to make sure the Marines’ skill set stays fresh.”

The company conducted its weapons training in conjunction with the battalion training at Hawthorne and Mountain Warfare Training Center Bridgeport, Calif., before its build-up for their upcoming deployment next year, Leibowitz said.

“We’re slated for a pump around spring of next year,” he said. “We’ve been training for Afghanistan up here in the mountains, but we’re not sure where the battalion is headed yet. Since we’ve done all the altitude and terrain training, we decided to focus on the basics to finish the training up.”

The company fired their Tube-launched Optically-tracked Wire-guided missiles, and other systems in an all-out exercise to test its capabilities.

“This exercise is going to include everything,” Leibowitz said. “We’re going to be using the 81mm mortars, TOW missiles, .50 caliber machine guns, and 40mm grenade launchers. Any day is a good day when you’re putting rounds down range.”

The Marines of the company who were performing the exercise enjoyed the chance to dust-off their skills and get behind their machine guns and other weapon systems again.

“Shooting a TOW is always a good time. I haven’t done it in a while so it’s something to look forward to,” said Lance Cpl. Garrett Babb, an antitank missileman with the company, and a native of Enid, Okla.

Babb said training at extreme elevation with their normal weapon systems will prove useful when his battalion goes overseas.

The elevation is tough to deal with and nothing like the flat lands of his home state, Babb said. “You never feel like you’re going forward, just straight up.

“It’s good to go doing the weapons training out here,” he said. “It’s like getting everything at once – high altitude conditioning and old school weapons shoots, which is what Marines live for.”

Having completed their training, 1/23 is headed home, but will return to active duty soon to deploy in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom.

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