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MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - Lance Cpl. Brian J. Larsen, a small arms repair technician with Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, inspects the components of an M2 .50 caliber machinegun inside the armory here April 19. Larsen, a 22-year-old Clarkston, Mich., native, and several other Marines work to keep more than 1,000 rifles, shotguns and machineguns operational for the Marines and sailors in the battalion.

Photo by Cpl. Mike Escobar

Clarkston, Mich., native keeps weapons “in the fight”

19 Apr 2006 | Cpl. Mike Escobar

The early warmth and humidity of the North Carolina spring sets in, but inside his place, Lance Cpl. Brian J. Larsen is cool as a cucumber.

It’s not for the sake of drinking martinis or reclining on a hammock that the workspace of this 22-year-old Clarkston, Mich., native is kept chill.  Rather, he and seven other Marines are hard at work disassembling weapons and inspecting munitions inside their armory, where the air is refreshing to keep the arsenal functioning properly.

Larsen, a small arms repair technician with Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, performs daily maintenance and inspections on more than 1,000 rifles, shotguns, machineguns and automatic grenade launchers.  In their young, capable hands rests the task of ensuring the weapons of hundreds of Marines and sailors on stateside training ranges and battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan function when the call to arms is sounded.

“Much of what we do consists of PFIs (pre-fire inspections),” explained Larsen, a 2002 Clarkston High School graduate.  “There’s always an inspection or some maintenance that needs to be done.  We ensure that all the weapons are up to par.”

Larsen’s career at the Oakland County Sportsmen’s Club skeet shooting range prior to enlisting in the Corps helped prepare him for his present-day trade, he said.

“A lot of what I do in this job is along the same lines (as the skeet range).  Instead of doing target practice for fun, though, the results of what I do on the job nowadays are for real.  In Iraq, it’s the real deal.”

After deploying to both Iraq and Afghanistan during his past three years in the Marines, Larsen speaks with the voice of experience.  He learned the importance of servicing weapons in these overseas lands and continues to adhere to those values.

“Not to sound big headed or anything, but if it wasn’t for us, most people would be dead in the water when it came to weapons,” he said.  “It falls on us to make sure the weapons get fixed, so that Marines can charge on and keep training.”

Performing thorough maintenance on the weapons of an armory entails long work days for Larsen and his fellow Marines. 

“The job has its ups and downs because of the long hours we put in,” said Cpl. David Gardner, the armory’s noncommissioned officer-in-charge.  “Even when we’re off, we’re always on call.  Units come back to turn in weapons on the weekends and during nighttime hours, and we have to have someone there to receive them.”

Additionally, armory personnel are present during every firing range the battalion conducts.  They provide guidance and technical expertise to ensure the weapons stay up and in the fight.

“We take our job seriously because if a weapon goes down on the range, it’s a whole training evolution that is stopped for that Marine,” Larsen stated.

Larsen realizes he has been entrusted with a great amount of responsibility in his job.  Technicians like him are accountable for thousands of weapons and optics along with millions of dollars worth of gear.

“Every item we deal with here is serialized, so we have to keep a careful control over our inventory,” he said.  “If something comes up missing, the whole base can get shut down until that item comes up.”

Nevertheless, it’s this responsibility that makes his time on the job time well spent.
“It feels good to apply yourself on the job.  You get your hands dirty when you’re working, and that’s a good feeling.”