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Jennifer Pelletier, who participated in 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment’s Jane Wayne Day, climbs over the obstacle course wall with a little help Nov. 19.

Photo by Cpl. Monica C. Erickson

Wives aim to learn about husbands’ jobs

24 Nov 2009 | Cpl. Monica C. Erickson

Wives of 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment service members awoke early Nov. 19 dressed in their husbands’ camouflaged uniforms and left their houses as the sun began to rise over the mountains of the Combat Center to participate in the battalion’s Jane Wayne Day.

Jane Wayne Days are designed to show spouses what it is like to be a Marine by having them participate in various activities.

As more than 70 spouses started their day at the obstacle course, their Marines and sailors stepped off on an eight-mile hike across the Combat Center’s mountain range behind the course.

Before the sun had fully risen, the wives were huddled together by the obstacle course, trying to stay warm as a handful of volunteer Marines from 2nd Bn., 7th Marines, gave a demonstration on how to get through each obstacle.

Although some of the ladies declined the opportunity to run the course, a brave few quickly learned how difficult and tiring it was. As they neared the end of the course, choruses from supportive spouses rose as they urged one another to “finish strong.”

After each wife finished the obstacle course, the women cheered for one another and themselves, for being able to complete something their Marines do.

“Doing the obstacle course brought back a lot of memories,” said Jackie Ward, a former active duty Marine, and wife of Staff Sgt. Eric Ward, with 2nd Bn., 7th Marines. “This day is a good break from my normal day-to-day life.”

As the women caught their breath, Master Gunnery Sgt. Brian Riddle, the battalion’s operations chief, had them stand in formation before stepping off for a three-mile hike.

The ladies traveled over the mountain ridge behind the obstacle course then back tracked and hiked down to the Indoor Simulated Marksmanship Trainer in building 1707.  The ISMT uses video simulation and gas-powered weapons hooked up to a computer to help Marines improve their marksmanship.

At the ISMT, the spouses were able to fire a wide range of weapons including the M16-A2 service rifle, the Squad Automatic Weapon, the M240-G machine gun, and the AT4 rocket launcher.

They first fired at a blank screen, getting a feel for each weapon prior to aiming at computer-generated targets. After the ladies were warmed up, they went through a scenario requiring them to clear a town overrun by enemies.

After firing each weapon, the women put on flak jackets, helmets and goggles, traveled across the street and boarded amphibious assault vehicles. Range 105, where the ladies were split into two teams. Team Gold stayed behind while Team Red walked up a path toward the firing line.

Team Gold was able to examine and handle various weapons in a static display as Marines instructed them on the nomenclature of each weapon. Team Gold was also treated to Meals Ready-to-Eat.

As the ladies traded items inside their MREs, laughter rang throughout the range and rumors spread to avoid the laxative gum.

Meanwhile, the ladies in Team Red were receiving magazines loaded with ten rounds and listening to a safety brief about the importance of being cautious while firing a real weapon.

Each spouse was able to shoot an M16-A4 and a SAW at Range 105. Marines from 2nd Bn. 7th Marines, stayed close by the ladies who where firing, helping them reload and clear any blockages.

“It was not easy to put this day together, but it was completely worth it,” said Lt. Col. John Reed, the battalion’s commanding officer.  “To see those smiling faces when firing the SAW—completely worth it.”

When Team Red finished firing, they switched places with Team Gold, to give them a chance to feel the rush of firing a live weapon.

After their time at Range 105, the ladies drove to Victory Field where the entire battalion had stopped after finishing their eight-mile hike.

The spouses created their own formation next to the rest of the Marines and sailors and Reed told them all what a good job they had done throughout the day.

“I hope everyone had a good time today,” Reed said. “I am always willing to take recommendations on how to make these days better for everyone.”

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