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Lance Cpl. Mason Bennet, tank gunner, 1st Tank Battalion, helps students of Palm Vista Elementary School use the Advanced Gunnery Training System at the 1st Tanks Tank Ramp, May 18, 2015. The simulator allowed the children to get a glimpse of how the Marines train to operate tanks. (Official Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Thomas Mudd/ Released)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Thomas Mudd

Palm Vista Elementary visits ‘1st Tanks’

18 May 2015 | Lance Cpl. Thomas Mudd Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

1st Tank Battalion welcomed Palm Vista Elementary School students for a tour of the Tank Ramp, May 18, 2015.

The children got the opportunity to experience a "day in the life" perspective 1st Tanks Marines.

“For a lot of these [children], this will be the first time they have ever been on a military base,” said Lt. Col. Lee Rush, battalion commander, 1st Tanks. “Being able to show them what we do is a great way to show the community the human side of the Marine Corps.”

The children were split up into three groups and had the opportunity to learn about the different vehicles used by 1st Tanks, such as the M1A1 Abrams. The children also used a variation of the Advanced Gunnery Training System simulators and asked the Marines of 1st Tanks questions about the equipment.

“The simulators are the same ones we use to train with,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Steven Heath, operations chief, 1st Tanks. “The only real difference is the ones we generally use are in a box that makes you feel like you are actually in a tank.”

While one group experienced the simulators, the others went outside to look at four M1A1 Abrams tanks, an M88A2 Hercules, an ambulance, a Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement, a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected All-Terrain Vehicle and a Logistics Vehicle System Replacement.

“Most of these [children] have never seen anything like this in real life,” Heath said. “It is like Disneyland and SeaWorld mashed up into one for them.”

Approximately 30 Marines volunteered to show the students around the vehicles and help with the equipment.

“It’s great to be able to do things like this for the school,” said Cpl. Matthew Rivera, tank gunner, 1st Tanks. “Showing the [children] around is refreshing and seeing them so excited makes us want to keep doing what we do.”

The children had the opportunity to learn from the Marines and see equipment most people never have the opportunity to see.

“Most of these children have seen the Marines come to their classrooms and help their teachers for a day,” said Navy Lt. j.g. William Daniel, chaplain, 1st Tanks. “For some of them, these Marines are role models.”
Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms