MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Marines and sailors of Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, departed Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center Bridgeport, Calif., Aug. 24 to conduct live fire training exercises at the Hawthorne Army Ammunition Depot, Nev.
The company spent the entire day Aug. 25 firing the M-240B medium machine gun, and the M-2 .50 caliber and MK-19 heavy machine guns.
“The Marines fired at targets anywhere from 900 to 2,000 meters away today,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Matt Carpenter, the battalion’s gunner. “These weapons can cover a lot of ground, and the Marines should have a lot of confidence in their abilities after this training.”
Pfc. Christopher Bass, a Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire-guided missile gunner with Weapons Co., cross trained on the M-240B and said it was nice to get behind a machine gun again.
“With a TOW you pretty much aim and fire one round, and that’s it,” said Bass, a Slinger, Wis., native. “I like firing machine guns because they move around a lot more and give you a lot more feedback.”
The Marines fired from high and low angles of at least 30 degrees, maximizing the efficiency of the exercise, Carpenter said.
“Being high above or well below a target makes it harder to determine how far away it is,” said Carpenter, a Loysville, Penn., native. “On flat ground you can use the football field method to determine how far away a target is, but when you’re firing from high or low, you have to use other methods to put rounds on target and that’s what it’s all about.”
He said the mountainous desert Hawthorne provides is crucial in giving Marines the most realistic training possible.
“This area, based on its terrain, is an excellent site for machine gunners to train,” he said. “There are only a few units in the Marine Corps that have the opportunity to train in an area like this.”
The training was especially important to Cpl. Omar Salazar, a former administrative clerk, who lateral moved into infantry earlier this year.
“I’m taking a lot away from this training, not only from today but everything we’ve been doing here and in Bridgeport,” said Salazar, a Rosemont, Calif., native. “I’m just taking it all in and learning as much as I can.”
MCMWTC personnel also used the training to gather data to possibly put together a mountain machine gunner’s course in the future.
The unit returned to MCMWTC Aug. 26 and is currently engaged in the battalion’s final exercise.