Photo Information

Lance Cpl. Michael Hobbs, an anti-tank missleman with 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment and native of Phoenix, Arizona, fires an M249 light machine gun at G-21 Machine Gun Range aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Dec. 11, 2014. Marines with the battalion conducted training to improve their skills with the M249 while engaging various targets at unknown distances. (U.S. Marine Corps photo taken by Lance Cpl. Alex Mitchell/released)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Alex W. Mitchell

1/8 improves knowledge with M249

18 Dec 2014 | Lance Cpl. Alex W. Mitchell 2nd Marine Division

As multiple M249 light machine guns line the berm, Marines with 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment grab belts of 5.56 mm rounds for their weapon systems.  The machine gun teams see their targets in the distance as they climb the berm and approached their M249, which are positioned on a tripod at G-21 Machine Gun Range, Dec. 11, 2014.  As they load and make ready, Marines practice and hone their skills during this machine gun shoot in order to maintain weapon familiarization.

“Training with the M249 helps us build muscle memory by getting the gun on target,” said Lance Cpl. Edwin Centofanti, a machine-gunner with the battalion and native of Youngstown, Ohio.  “It is good training and Marines enjoy firing these weapon systems.  Keeping up with training keeps us prepared to hold up the battalion’s purpose during deployments.”

Marines with the battalion conduct routine machine gun training to maintain efficiency through repetition of firing and handling the weapon systems.  Centofanti said the Marines don’t feel like this is just another live-fire exercise since the targets distance can vary and it helps maintain unit readiness whenever they are called to duty.   

“Making sure Marines are comfortable with other Marines around them, while firing the machine guns, is what we strive for,” said Cpl. Joe Blair, a section leader with the battalion and native of Kikei, Hawaii.  “Knowing how to use the weapon system correctly during these training events helps build a stronger connection from the gunner to the assistant gunner.”  On the firing line, Marines received different scenarios in which targets at varied distances would appear from behind berms in their firing lane.  The shooter then engaged each target as quickly as possible while the assistant gunner shouted commands to help the gunner adjust his fire and effectively hit the target. 

“I expect Marines to take away familiarization with the weapons system,” said Centofanti.  “Muscle memory helps when training with machine guns and plays a big role when it comes to gunners and assistant gunners working as a team to engage targets at unknown distances.”

Junior and senior Marines conduct this training year round to maintain weapon knowledge.  This training helps build upon the unit’s goal of being a force of readiness and supporting other units that deploy in the future.   

“It is good training, lots of our Marines establish a base line,” said Blair. “They can go back to the basics and on to the next level with everyone at the same page.  Training like this helps build the unit up together, and that keeps everyone combat ready and tactically proficient.”