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Marines from Company E, 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion line up their vehicles Nov. 17 at the Combat Center’s Range 109 before setting their basic combat zero on their 25mm Bushmaster chain gun. The company undertook the exercise to establish their skills as crewmen.

Photo by Lance Cpl. M.C. Nerl

Erie Co. sharpens its claws at Range 109

20 Nov 2009 | Lance Cpl. M.C. Nerl

Third Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion’s newest company, Co. E, known among its own ranks as ‘Erie,’ took part in training Nov. 17 which was new to some, but all too familiar to the rest of the LAR world at the Combat Center’s Range 109 Nov.

The company completed tables one and two of qualification with their 25 mm Bushmaster chain gun, the primary weapon used by LAV crewmen when in their vehicles, said 1st Lt. Aryn Vastola, the executive officer of the company.

Tables one and two are live-fire exercises and basic gunnery courses all LAV crewmen must qualify in before moving on to more advanced courses. In the advanced courses, they shoot and maneuver on stationary and moving targets, said the West Palm Beach, Fla., native.

“We’ve recently gotten a lot of new Marines,” Vastola said. “We’re in the beginning of our crawl, walk and run phase right now. We’re starting off with the basics, doing tables one and two,” he said.

Vastola said they have to [basic combat zero], or calibrate, their weapons before firing the tables.

The exercise will help build need-to-know skills as well as unit cohesion, said Vastola.

“Shooting at the stationary targets in the two tables will help our brand new Marines develop their basic gunnery skills,” he said. “They’ll build on crew cohesion during the exercise. If you don’t know your basics, then you can’t be expected to perform at a higher level when you’re needed to.”

Marines with a deployment under their belt who have spent time in the unit, said they saw how the training would benefit those who will soon fill their shoes.

“The company got put together with a mixture of older and newer Marines,” said Cpl. Rob Ray, an optics technician with 3rd LAR, from Kenton, Ohio. “It really gives us a chance to talk to them and walk them through basic stuff because we’ve already done it a hundred times and know it like the back of our hands.”

Ray said the Marines who haven’t been around long should catch up to  those who are more experienced.

“With this stuff, it’s easy,” he said. “It’s stuff they learned in the first couple days of their [military occupational specialty] training. I know it and I’m a different MOS altogether. The faster you do this stuff, the faster you move on to more important things to make you a well-rounded Marine.”

Pfc. Thomas Walker, a light armored vehicle crewman who joined after the company was established earlier this year, testified to the usefulness of the training he will receive.

“I haven’t even been in a year yet,” said Walker, who is from Fayetteville, Ga. “The last time I did a BZO on the main gun was back in [the School of Infantry]. The more I learn now, the better I’ll be after I’m a sergeant.”

The company is scheduled to continue team-building and training for their next deployment as the rest of the battalion returns from post-deployment leave.

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