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Every Marine a Rifleman

2 Sep 2011 | Lance Cpl. Jackson

The Combat Center’s grueling sun and extreme desert climate isn’t the most desirable place for the Marines training, but for 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, it’s home from the arduous terrain of the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains that embodies the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, Calif.

The battalion known as ‘First Team’ wrapped up their mountain warfare training Aug. 26, 2011, after weeks of training with their five-day final exercise.

“Bridgeport has provided us an opportunity to come together as a team and that’s the most important part,” said Lt. Col. David Bradney, the commanding officer for 1/7. “The mountains have a tendency to force you to become a team. They live, sleep, work and share hardships like this and build cohesion.”

The training has provided a number of different scenarios for each of the companies during the mountain exercise. The training ranged from patrols, company size movements and aerial resupplies.

“It’s kind of cool, it’s some good training I think, especially for a lot of these guys who haven’t dealt with [helicopters],” said Lance Cpl. David Rankin, a team leader with Headquarters and Service Company, 1/7, while in a patrol during the battalion’s final exercise. “I just can’t wait to get home and see my wife.”

Training is tough and strenuous; and the experience is different for every battalion.

“It takes a lot of analysis and it takes a lot of study with different guys in functioning areas like [communications, combat logistics and intelligence],” said Capt. George R. Gordy, IV, the operations officer with 1/7. “I’ll be honest, depending on where a unit is and its goals and vision, it may or may not be right for a certain unit. We saw [the mountain exercise] as being a rich opportunity for us to actually fuse into our [predeployment training program]. Another battalion might be able to do the same because of the different requirements for themselves and time [before deployment].”

First Team successfully completed their mountain exercise, grumbling most of the way, but it was more than just training for the battalion, the rigorous training ended with the battalion wide Warrior Night, to concrete the growth between the unit.

“It’s a great time to finish the thing, bonding wise,” said Sgt. Maj. Keith Coombs, First Team’s battalion sergeant major, to staff members. “We just have to continue pushing together and driving together.”

“We’re a young battalion, and we knew it,” added Bradney, explaining the unit’s experience during the mountain exercise. “This really provided us an amazing opportunity to figure out what we’re good at and where we need to grow.”

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