‘Gator’ Bn. goes surfing
By Pfc. Jose A. Mendez Jr.
| 2nd Marine Division | September 13, 2013
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE --
Marines with Bravo and Charlie Companies, 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, completed their annual surf qualification, Sept. 12, 2013, at Onslow Beach aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.
“We are hitting our annual requirement to conduct a surf survival,” said 1st Lt. Joel Wagaman, the 1st platoon commander with Bravo Co., and native of Hamburg, Pa. “It’s an opportunity for our Marines to come out here and practice egressing and evacuating a vehicle in the unforeseen circumstance that we have to put troops in the water whether it’s a vehicle malfunction or a vehicle sinking.”
Marines were taken out 500 meters into the ocean in amphibious assault vehicles and evacuated in buddy pairs.
“At first I was nervous because I’m not used to jumping out of an amtrak in the middle of the ocean,” said Pfc. Cody J. Jackson, an AAV rear crewman with Bravo Co., from Bremen, Ga., in reference to his first surf qualification. “But you have to do it, so I just wanted to get it over with.”
When the Marines began heading back to shore, they were forced to face natural challenges.
“The current kind of made you feel like you weren’t going anywhere. I just felt as if I was staying in the same place,” said Jackson. “Overall it was the fatigue, swimming for a long time just gets you tired.”
Jackson took approximately 30 minutes to get back to shore, he said.
“I took it with a nice, slow and steady pace because I did not want to completely wear myself out and fail in the end,” Jackson said.
After reaching shore the Marines looked back with a smile and a sense of relief.
Jackson said surf qualification is something he looks forward to doing again and he had a lot of fun.
“I enjoy being able to be out here with the Marines and I like to get in the water,” said Wagaman.
Learning to properly evacuate an AAV is an important skill for the crewmen to learn but was not the only lesson they left with.
“It’s extremely important because it also builds confidence within the Marines with being an amtraker and knowing that we do spend a lot of our time out in the water conducting amphibious operations,” said Wagaman.
The Marines of AA Bn. are the only Marines who conduct surf qualification.
“This makes us different as an amphibious capability,” said Wagaman. “This is just another thing that makes us unique as amtrakers.”