MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Metal parts scrape and click harshly against one another, creating odd sounds as Marines bark commands and motivation to junior Marines urgently assembling their weapons.
Pfc. Kyle D. Springer and the rest of his fellow M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon gunners hustle hard to complete their task. Some work with the precision of machines, some with brute force, as the rest of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, trains alongside them.
Springer, his fellow SAW-gunners, mortarmen, riflemen and assaultmen blemish the sunny quad, kicking up dust clouds and moving in small groups of five to six Marines. They perform a variety of training exercises during the battalion’s seven-month training cycle. This training ensures combat readiness and occupational development, preparing younger Marines for their upcoming deployment.
The motivational yelling and clinking of weapon parts increases as Springer and his comrades push themselves to disassemble their weapons. Cpl. Joseph L. Osborn, one of Springer’s and Company K’s noncommissioned officers, stands to the side grimacing as he explains, “These Marines out here today are basically brand new to the company and have never been deployed. So we do a lot of training to make sure these guys know everything they need to about their assigned tasks and their weapons before we do regular assigned training,” he said over the yells of the company’s Marines around him. “The Marines are doing patrolling, enhanced marksmanship, magazine drills and learning how to clear rooms and ladderwells properly, so it will be second nature and will save their lives and those of their squad mates while in Iraq.”
On the other side of the field, on the ladderwells, catwalks and in the rooms of the battalion’s barracks, Marines new to the battalion run and scream while they practice close quarters combat and room clearing techniques. Pfc. Juan Zaldibar, 19, is one of these Marines.
With aggressive speed and constant communication, Zaldibar and his fellow Marine successfully make their way up a ladderwell and to the second deck. After clearing the area and finishing the drill, he explains how he feels about the training and his upcoming deployment.
“Because of this training I already feel much more prepared and confident in my abilities,” said the New Brunswick, N.J. native.
“Tactically make your way to the first deck,” yells a Marine training Zaldibar and his comrades. The young Marines reach the first level of the barracks and immediately begin performing various magazine and gun drills.
Zaldibar stands in a combat stance as his trainers bellow commands to him. He immediately obeys.
“Combat reload,” yells a senior Marine.
With rapt determination, Zaldibar expels the inserted magazine while simultaneously reaching for a new one. With a fluid motion he jams in a new magazine.
“They train us hard until we get it right,” said the 2006 New Brunswick Township High School graduate. “That is why I know I will be able to depend on the Marines around me, and they will be able to depend on me. It’s a good feeling.”