MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Combat Center Marines from Headquarters Battalion took a break from their regular duties supporting Marines and returned to their rifleman roots with a three-day field exercise at the Combat Center’s Range 100 April 28 – 30.
The Marines used the time to refresh basic combat skills, like patrolling, immediate action drills, hand and arm signals and calling for fire.
They also performed a medical evacuation, practiced defensive tactics by digging and manning their own fighting holes and carried out a night patrol utilizing night vision goggles and employing proper light and sound discipline.
“The training was meant to refresh non-infantry Marines who haven’t had a chance to get out of the office and refine their infantry skills,” said 1st Sgt. Thomas D. Russi, the company first sergeant for Company A, Headquarters Bn.
Leadership was a recurring theme throughout the field exercise, said Russi, from Temecula, Calif. It was a perfect opportunity to test the Marines’ everyday unit cohesion and leadership skills in situations which the Marines do not experience every day.
The Marines responded to the challenge with enthusiasm, even surprising their leaders with how well they came together and adapted.
“The cold weather and the wind was really kicking their ass, but there wasn’t a whole lot of complaining,” Russi said. “The Marines weren’t even asking questions like we thought they would. Like, ‘This isn’t my job; why am I doing this?’”
Lance Cpl. Cosme Cardenas, a light armored vehicle mechanic with Exercise Support Division, said the training was a step in the right direction in preparing him for an upcoming assignment with a deploying unit.
“I need to know everything we’re doing out here,” said the Hesperia, Calif., native. “I haven’t even slept out in the field since before my [military occupational specialty] school, but it wasn’t hard recalling everything.”
Even Marines who have plenty of experience in the field said they were still able to take something away from what the group accomplished.
“I go to the field a lot, but its always as a cook,” said Lance Cpl. Fernandez Garcia, with the installation’s food service office, and a native of Antonito, Colo. “I mean, who knows? I may even be put on patrols and have to use all this stuff we’ve been doing, instead of just cooking for all the other Marines.”
The battalion is currently putting plans together for more follow-up training to continue enhancing the Marines’ field expertise in the coming months.