FORT BLISS, Texas --
Life is full of journeys and new beginnings. For some they are either welcome or unwelcome. But, for anyone beginning a new career, you've got to start from the bottom and work your way up.
For Pfc. Cody Troxel, a machine gunner with Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, the change is welcomed and something he’s wanted his whole life. Troxel’s job is to operate and know every detail of the M249 squad automatic weapon, M240 Bravo, the Browning M2 .50-caliber machine gun and the Mk 19 automatic grenade launcher.
Troxel, from Redding, Pa., is the first in his family to serve in the military. When his parents first found out he chose to go in the Marine Corps they were nervous, but now they are proud of his decision and very supportive of his choice, he said.
“I’m following my dreams,” said Troxel. “I’m learning something new every day and I love the guys I’m with. I’m getting opportunities no one else can say they’ve had. It was nerve racking at first. I’d compare it to going to a new high school. But, after a little time goes by you learn the routine and all the guys your with, so things get easier.”
To prepare for the Marine Corps Troxel played a lot of high school sports. When he wasn’t practicing or participating in games or events he would do some extra training with his friends like hiking, going for runs or rock climbing.
Being adventurous and an outdoorsman have helped him with the demanding field schedule of the infantry lifestyle, Troxel said. For him the infantry is everything he expected when he chose this job.
“When he first showed up he didn’t talk very much,” said Lance Cpl. Kyle Flint, an Echo Company squad leader. “But, now he’s starting to lighten up around the guys and I can tell he knows a lot about machine guns. We’re still here to answer any questions he has and teach him, but he’s a good machine gunner and I think he’s going to really exceed at his job. He’s knowledgeable about the weapon systems and is able to carry the weight without it bothering him when we go on long hikes.”
Arriving at the company in February, Troxel is optimistic and excited about the two month training exercise he is taking part in with Echo Co., April through May.
Troxel just completed his first squad level live-fire exercise at Range 62 on Fort Bliss, Texas, April 4-6, 2013. Troxel’s main responsibility was to provide suppressive fire on electronically operated pop-up targets while other Marines moved over 800 meters to clear the area of enemies.
“This training isn’t like anything that I’ve seen before,” said Troxel. “We did something sort of similar at the School of Infantry, but nothing this far in depth. It’s an adrenaline rush when you’re firing and you’re seeing all the dirt that kicks up. Who doesn’t like to shoot?”
Flint, from Cherry Valley, N.Y., said he wants Troxel to get more comfortable around the weapon system over the next few months of training and be able to see how to effectively shift fire and support the riflemen when moving with them towards the mission objective.
While not on the firing line during the two days, Troxel was either teaching class on the M240B or receiving classes. He gave a class on the basics of machine gun operations to 3rd Platoon; going over basic firing procedures, how to change the barrels, and how to clear jams and misfires.
“He’s very comfortable teaching classes,” said Flint. “Usually when he’s teaching, the senior guys and I step back and very rarely have to step in to say something or teach a portion of the class he doesn’t know yet.”
Troxel loves his job and wouldn’t pick any other job in the Marine Corps, but one day he wants to be a U.S. Navy SEAL.
“I didn’t feel ready to go to BUD/S [Basic Underwater Dive School],” said Troxel. “So I chose the Marine Corps, because I figured it would give me the strength, experience, and education I need to be successful in the SEALs. So far the Marine Corps has given me all that. I continue progressing in those areas every day. I love my job.”