12th Marines tale live-fire training to Fuji
CAMP FUJI, Japan — The sound of machine gun fire echoed throughout the hills of the North Fuji Maneuver Area, as Marines and sailors of 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, conducted small arms live-fire training Nov. 4.
The exercise, with more than 40 Marines and sailors from the battalion’s crew-served weapons teams, met the unit’s training requirements and built the troops’ confidence in their ability to defend the battery, according to Master Sgt. Roger Dill, operations chief for the battalion.
During the live-fire training, shooters fired the M2 .50 caliber and M240B machine guns, and the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon at multiple targets ranging from 300 to 2,000 meters. Individuals sharpened their accuracy using the M2’s traversing and elevating mechanism to get rounds on targets.
“I experienced a little difficulty during the shoot while traversing and elevating the machine gun to get rounds on target,” said Lance Cpl. Neil Madison, a radio operator with Headquarters Battery, 3rd Bn., 12th Marines. “Not only do you have to be quick, but you have to know how the precise adjustment of the traverse and elevation will affect the gun.”
The M2 .50 caliber machine gun teams fired at bright yellow stationary targets while the M240B and M249 SAW gunners fired at remote-controlled pop-up targets. According to Dill, the remote-controlled pop-up targets, either individual or multiple, could be programmed to go down after receiving a set number of hits.As each shooter switched from assistant gunner to gunner, four position safety officers ensured the loading process was executed quickly and safely.
“Pull that charging handle back again! Pull it and let it ride home!” yelled Cpl. Tommy Rivera during one of the gun reloads. Rivera, a field wireman with the battalion, was one of the position safety officers on the firing line. His job was to ensure range safety and show gun teams how to conduct proper immediate actions under stress.
“Having recently returned from a deployment to Afghanistan, as an embedded training team member, Rivera’s combat experience makes him an ideal weapons trainer,” said Lt. Col. Sean Wester, commanding officer, 3rd Bn., 12th Marines.
Nearly two hours of preparation and live-fire training was a good hands-on experience said some Marines.
“It’s my responsibility to be proficient,” said Madison. “So when the time comes, I can load rounds quickly, safely and correctly, and be able to accurately engage the enemy.”
The regiment is currently participating in Artillery Relocation Training Exercise 09-03 in Camp Fuji, Japan. Marines complete the first phase of a three-phase evolution today, taking the unit from battery to regiment-size live-fire artillery command and control scenarios.
// By Cpl. Joseph A. Cabrera
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