CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - -- He gazed through the scope, taking careful aim on the target down range. Breathing steadily he pulls the trigger and unleashes a hail of bullets that tear into the target.
Instructors with the Division Combat Skills Center conducted the live-fire training portion of the Machine Gunner’s Course at a range aboard Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, April 23, 2015.
“This course is designed to teach Marines the basics of machine guns,” said Cpl. Ross H. Williams, an instructor with the center. “How to disassemble and reassemble them, how to maintain them and how they are used by the Marine Corps.”
During the two-week course, the Marines were tasked with familiarizing themselves with the M249 squad automatic weapon light machine gun, M240B medium machine gun, M2 .50-caliber heavy machine gun and the MK-19 40mm automatic grenade launcher.
“For the first week we bring the Marines into the classroom and have them work on one machine gun each day,” said Williams. “Over the course of that day the Marines disassemble and reassemble the weapons, memorize their nomenclature and rates of fire and other things that are involved in using one of these weapons.”
Williams said that for the Marines instructing the course, it was a good opportunity to share skills they had with those who may need them when in deployed or in a combat situation.
“Being a machine gunner in the Marine Corps, machine guns are my specialty,” said Williams. “There are lots of other times where Marines are going to come across machine guns and giving this knowledge to those where it is not their primary job they get a better skill set they can use should they need to in the field.”
For the 21 Marines participating in the course, the classroom lessons allowed them to get more accustomed to the weapons before going to the range.
“We started off at a good pace,” Cpl. Kemuel Sanchez, a motor vehicle operator with 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division. “With the hands on training I was able to get a better understanding of the weapons and how they work. It allowed us to get familiarized with the weapons instead of coming out here and being nervous with live rounds when an accident could hurt someone.”
Sanchez said that having the skills fresh in their minds leaves the Marines better prepared in case they should find themselves in a situation where they are required to use the machine guns.
“We don’t know the roles we’ll play in the future,” said Sanchez. “I think it’s essential for us to be able to operate the machine guns and be comfortable with them so we can do what needs to be done.”