MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Capt. John Gwazdauskas, the company commander for Company C, 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, moves from one fighting hole to another, checking on the fire team-sized elements under his control.
No, this isn’t a battle in some far away land. It’s the battalion’s Jane Wayne Day held at Ellis Field at Courthouse Bay here, May 20. Jane Wayne Day is a chance for family members of Marines and sailors to experience military training first hand. To participate in the events, family members had to be 18 years of age or older and sign a statement of liability.
They are waiting for the attack they know is coming. The sound of tracked vehicles signals they have just a few moments left.
The attackers make their way towards the defenders’ positions and a few war cries could be heard amidst the sounds of gunfire.
“Push through—push all the way past their line,” yells one man.
Before the battle began, the participants received a brief from the 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion’s commander, Lt. Col. Michael L. Kuhn.
“What you’re going to do during this training rehearsal … you’re going to conduct an attack. That is what your Marines and sailors do …”
And that is exactly what the 60 participants did. Those who showed up for the exercise were issued a flak jacket, Kevlar helmet, a weapon equipped with a blank-firing apparatus and blank rounds.
“I enjoyed it and I think all the other girls did too. To go out there and see what our boys really do—not necessarily running an obstacle course, which they don’t do everyday,” said Amber Donaleson, one of the wives who participated. “Having the anxiety of waiting for your opponent to approach you … that was really exciting.”
The event took about a week to plan and involved about 30 personnel, said 1st Lt. Brian Colby, the battalion operations officer.
Headquarters and Support Company took the offense as team Spearhead, while all other companies were part of team Gator on the defense.
The offensive team learned the basics of how to shoot a weapon with blanks, how to move in formations, and how to engage in a mechanized attack including dismounting from vehicles.
At the same time the defensive team went and set up positions in the woods next to Ellis Field, digging fighting holes and preparing for the attack. Each of the defenders carried a sandbag to the site and several were given shovels and picks for digging.
The offensive team then conducted a mechanized assault on the defensive team.
While their wives and other loved ones participated in the exercise, the Marines and sailors stayed back to help cook lunch and to entertain the children.
Lunch was served after the exercise was finished. Despite some rain early on, there was no intention to cancel the event.
“We’re amphibious warriors, so our wives should be too,” Colby said jokingly.
Michelle Buchanan, a housewife, said the event was very enjoyable.
“It was great. It was the first time in my husband’s 18-year career that I had done something like this.”