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Marines with Company B, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, make their way out to the ocean during a Basic Scout Swimmers Course training exercise at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, Calif., March 9.

Photo by Cpl. R. Logan Kyle

‘First Team’ returns to amphibious roots, trains like WWII Raiders

11 Mar 2010 | Cpl. R. Logan Kyle

During World War II, an elite group was established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to carry out clandestine amphibious attacks while operating from small rubber boats behind enemy lines. The Marine Raiders, as they were aptly named, were the first American special operations personnel to see combat in the war.

The Raiders have since been disbanded, but a set of courses aboard the Naval Amphibious Base here is training Marines in the same fashion to conduct clandestine operations.

Marines with Company B, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, are currently participating in an array of courses in preparation for the battalion’s upcoming deployment aboard the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit this summer.

“Baker Co. is in the beginning stages of a six-week, small boat raid training package,” said Capt. Chris Frey, the officer in charge of the Amphibious Raid and Water Survival branch, Expeditionary Warfare Training Group-Pacific. “Now what that entails is four weeks of individual skills courses to include the [Combat Rubberized Reconnaissance Crafts] Repair Course, the Basic Coxswain Skills Course, the Basic Scout Swimmers Course and the Over the Horizon Maritime Navigation Course.

“At the end of the individual skills courses, the company will come together for a two-week course where they’ll sharpen the skills they learned to become an effective boat company capable of performing raids,” he added.

Frey said Co. B will be an invaluable asset aboard the MEU.

“When a Battalion Landing Team goes out on a MEU it provides a battalion commander with the only method of clandestine insertion to conduct missions for a raid,” he said. “They can go from over the horizon with very little signature, land on a beach, conduct their mission and extract to the mother ship, as opposed to using louder methods like a [helicopter] company or a truck company.”

Each course in the evolution tests the Marines in different ways. It requires them to overcome both mental and physical obstacles, thus adding a new set of skills to their toolbox.

Sgt. Roman Trevino, a student in the navigation course, said learning to navigate at sea has presented a challenge to him. 

“Basically we’re taking everything we know about navigating on land and transferring it to the sea,” said the Kingsville, Texas native. “This course has been a nonstop information overload. There’s so much more to consider when navigating across water, but for the most part, everyone seems to be getting it.”

So far the course instructors have been impressed with the level of motivation and discipline within Co. B.

Cpl. Joseph Goodnow, a CRRC Repair Course instructor, said the mechanics students have already completed their training evolution and will now support the rest of the company.

“These Marines performed very well,” said the Mason City, Iowa native. “Now they will spend the rest of their time here applying the skills they learned throughout the course to support the training of the Marines going through the other courses, and ultimately play a big role in the final two weeks of training.”

For the students in the Basic Scout Swimmers Course, the coming weeks will put them through several hours of some of the most physically demanding training they have ever conducted.

Cpl. Jamison Richards, a student in the Basic Scout Swimmers Course, said he has never been put through tougher physical training.

“Easily the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” said the Bryan, Texas native, about the physical demands of the course. “We do these ‘run, fin, runs,’ where we run two miles, then swim 1,000 meters, and then run two more miles. It’s not your average day at the city pool.”

On top of the ‘run, fin, runs,’ scout swimmer students are put to the test by battling the Pacific Ocean.

The students are required to swim from up to 500 meters out at sea, then dig and blend into the sand in order to not be seen by enemies.

Richards compared scout swimmer training to the rigorous Navy SEAL regimen.

“This is probably as close as I’ll ever get to being a SEAL,” he said. “The focus here is to be as clandestine as possible. You don’t want the enemy on the shore seeing you flap your arms around and splashing water everywhere.”

The company is slated to complete the training April 8, then return to the Combat Center to continue to train for the upcoming MEU deployment.

“I was pumped up about the deployment before, but now my motivation is through the roof,” Richards said.

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