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Master Gunnery Sgt. Brent Loechler, the staff noncommissioned officer in charge of Explosive Ordinance Disposal helps unload 155 mm artillery rounds Sept. 1 during emergency destruction training. Ordnance, including 5.56 mm, 155 mm, 81 mm and 40 mm shells and rounds, detonation cord and other types of munitions were detonated.

Photo by Cpl. Andrew S. Avitt

Annual chore creates training opportunity

10 Sep 2010 | Cpl. Andrew S. Avitt

Marines from the Center Magazine Area and Explosive Ordnance Disposal units conducted emergency destruction training on ordnance aboard the Combat Center Sept 1.

The yearly exercise serves not just to train Marines in the process of emergency destruction, but to dispose of unserviceable ordnance accumulated throughout the year.

“With the amount of ammunition that is fired and dropped on this base, a small percentage of it will get turned back in as Code H (unserviceable),”  said Master Gunnery Sgt. Brent Loechler, the staff noncommissioned officer in charge of EOD. “It can not be re-issued, and the CMA can only maintain so much of this ammo, so it needs to be destroyed.”

Marines with EOD explained the process and characteristics of a proper “blow,” describing the proper placement of the different types of ordnance, including 5.56 mm, 155 mm, 81 mm and 40 mm rounds and shells, detonation cord and other types of munitions.

Three groups worked on their assigned loads, stacking the munitions for imminent destruction.

But they aren’t just piled together haphazardly. They are systematically placed for the complete demolition of all the ordnance involved, said Lance Cpl. Shannon Hearne an ammunition technician with CMA, from Dallas.

The smaller types of ammunition used for M-16 rifles and other small arms weapons were placed on the bottom of the pile, which were followed by a variety of explosive ordnance, such as mortars and grenades. The pile was eventually toped off by heavy 155 mm artillery shells used by howitzers.

This pile of expired or damaged munitions was then rigged with Composition 4 explosives to intensify the explosion, triggering a chain reaction designed to engage all of the rounds.

“I was surprised how simple the explosive chain that was set up and how it sets off all the others,” Hearn said.

Lance Cpl. Mike Marra, an ammunition technician, from Atlanta, reflected on his training after he was allowed to blow the piles from a secure location.

“It’s great to get out and learn about new things pertaining to our [Military Occupation Specialty],” Marra said. “It’s not what we normally do out here, but it would be something we would do quite a bit of while deployed.”

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms