Headquarters, Service Marines go back to basics
By Lance Cpl. Sullivan Laramie
| | May 14, 2013
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Hot lead poured out of cold steel and sent sparks flying into the air as it pierced through the armor of rusted, aging military vehicles.
Marines with Headquarters and Service Company, 2nd Maintenance Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group participated in a field training exercise, or FEX, here May 7 through 10.
Approximately 70 Marines with the company trained for patrols, firefights and improvised explosive device, or IED, detection.
“[HqSvc. Co.] is mostly made up of supply and maintenance Marines,” said Staff Sgt. Jose D. Gonzalez, the company’s chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense chief. “[We] rarely get to [use basic Marine skills] because we mostly just do [administration] jobs during field exercises. This shows the Marines there is definitely more to the Marine Corps than just turning wrenches.”
Approximately 20 Marines from the company were chosen to train with .50-caliber M2 machine guns, which they plan to use in future deployments. Three Marines with 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division taught the HqSvc. Co. Marines the basics of firing the machine guns.
The M2s are belt-fed and capable of firing 485 to 635 armor-piercing rounds per minute and can hit targets up to 6,800 meters away with a tracer every five rounds to provide accurate fire at night. The machine guns also have the ability to fire in a single-shot mode, which allows the weapons to be used as sniper rifles.
“When I came out here, I didn’t expect you to know a lot about the [M2s],” said Sgt. Robert H. Villanueva III, a machine gunner with 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, as he spoke to the Marines with HqSvc. Co. “You actually overly impressed me. You can hop on [an M2] and put rounds downrange in any combat scenario.”
The field exercise challenged the Marines with situations many had not experienced before. Every Marine completed the IED detection course, but some of the servicemembers conducted the training at night.
The Marines searched for explosives with only their eyes as they traveled along a path. By using visual detection instead of relying on equipment such as metal detectors, the servicemembers had to remain vigilant.
“Everyone worked really well together and did their parts, even when our leader was hit,” said Cpl. Adam T. Peeler, an automotive maintenance technician with the company. “The nighttime course was pretty tough, but the difference between night and day was really interesting. One of the problems with night is the natural instinct to be close to each other, which can be dangerous around IEDs.”
The company received a higher degree of training than it would during a battalion FEX, said Gonzalez. Marines trained with different squad formations to re-familiarize them with some of the tactical knowledge they learned in Marine Combat Training, and used the Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System, or MILES, to practice engaging hostile forces.
The MILES system uses a combination of blank ammunition and a laser system to simulate bullets. Each Marine is equipped with laser receivers, which emit a loud noise when struck by the laser.
“To get a better understanding, you just need more time in the field,” said Peeler. “If you get comfortable in your [military occupational specialty], you forget the basics. That’s why we need field exercises.”