MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif., --
Company A, 1st Tank Battalion, had one last refresher exercise Nov. 28 to Dec. 2, before they ship off to Afghanistan early next year.
The company took five days to review vital information they may need to know during their upcoming tour.
“We are knocking the rust off,” said 1st Lt. David Murray, platoon commander, Co. A, 1st Tanks. “It has been a few months since we have been in the tanks.”
The Marines hit all the basics—improvised explosive device training, casualty evacuation with a helicopter, training with Afghan role players and live fire exercises.
“Our company designed the field op,” said Cpl. Joe Lombardo, tank gunner, 1st platoon. “It was based on what they expected us to go through in Afghanistan.”
Being the last group in the battalion scheduled to go to Afghanistan, the company is taking advantage of the information the forward deployed units have been sending home.
“Everyone would like to be the first to go, but those who have gone before us have learned and we are tailoring our training to that,” Murray said.
CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters flew in to allow the tankers to train for and experience what a casualty evacuation would be like. This was a unique experience for the Marines, who usually run through hypothetical helicopter scenarios.
“It was rare, we usually don’t get to train with CH-53Es,” Murray said.
The exercise also instilled confidence amongst the Marines.
“Everyone got to talk to the pilots in the helos,” Lombardo said. “I got to see my Marines be put on the spot. I wanted to make sure they could do it right. It was definitely good training for them.”
The weather during the week threw a twist in the exercise, with freezing nights, record wind speeds, and even snow. The tankers kept training, unfazed.
“We are tankers, we kill anything, anytime, anywhere,” said Master Sgt. Leroy Lecky, tank leader, Co. A.