Artillerymen reminded that ‘Every Marine is a rifleman’

27 Jun 2006 | Pfc. David A. Weikle

Marines, even before they join the Corps and earn the title they hold so dearly, are reminded they will not be defined by their job, but by being a Marine.

Lance Cpl. Joshua Hirvela works with the Marines of 5th Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment as a trained artilleryman. He also serves as a provisional infantryman while getting ready for deployment by training at the military operations in urban terrain facility here, June 27.

Honing their infantry skills, the Marines are reminded of the old credo “Every Marine a rifleman,” and by virtue, an infantryman.

“Clearing buildings, setting up vehicle check points, and patrols are part of our job while deployed,” said Cpl. Kyle Feikles, an artilleryman with the battalion. “We can act as infantry when needed.”

The battalion has undergone mixed pre-deployment preparation so far. They have received training and instruction in various infantry skills along with their normal artillery training.

“This training is very useful and will prepare us for deployment,” said Feikles, who has been deployed to Iraq twice. “Receiving this instruction will enable us to have a better grasp of the skills needed for deployment.”

The mission of the Corps comes first, and while they sometimes act as provisional infantry, the artillerymen of the battalion remember what they are trained for.

“Artillery is used in support of air and ground forces,” said Hirvela. “We can mark a target so aircraft can see it. We use high explosive or illumination rounds to make the target more visible. We also provide fire support to ground troops.”

Artillerymen provide fire support in the form of the M-198 Medium Towed Howitzers. But they are trading their 16,000-pound firing machine for the lightweight, magazine-fed, gas-operated, shoulder-fired M-16 service rifle.

Marines who are trained to aim the Howitzer, known as fire direction controlmen, employ the M-94 muzzle velocity system onboard the Howitzer, which allows them to take more accurate shots. They will take this same drive for accuracy to the rifles they carry while on patrols in the streets of Iraq.

“I joined the Marine Corps so I could get the chance to deploy,” said Feikles. “This training will help us to survive whatever we may encounter.”

Artillery section chiefs, usually a sergeant or corporal, are put in charge of a gun crew consisting of usually seven or eight Marines. They are now preparing to act as infantry squad leaders in charge 12 Marines.

“Section chiefs will act more alert of their surroundings,” said Feikles, an Edinboro, Penn., native. “They will look out for everyone in the squad.”

The process of firing a round from an M-16 is quite short and simple. The Marine sights in and uses the skills he has been taught to make every shot count.

This range of skills, along with the continual training the battalion expects from its Marines, reflects the needs of the Marine Corps.

“Acting as provisional infantry is just another part of being a Marine,” said Feikles. “As Marines, we are not defined by our jobs. You are a Marine first, and every Marine is a rifleman.”