Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. --
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
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
“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
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.”