They gathered in the pitch black. It was freezing as the Marines prepped their gear and warmed the boat engines in the dark. After daybreak, they finally boarded their floatable bridge sections en route to the ranges across the New River on March 10, 2014 with a full day of shooting still ahead of them.
Even with the war in Afghanistan winding down, the operational pace for the Marines of Bridge Company, 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group has remained high. The revitalization of the Marine Corps' amphibious readiness has opened up new doors to future deployments.
Large Image - A Marine with Bridge Company, 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group steers an Improved Ribbon Bridge with an MK III Bridge Erection Boat near Camp Lejeune, N.C., March 10, 2014. Boats and IRBs were used to move heavy equipment and Marines across the New River to rifle ranges as part of an annual training exercise.
Inset Image - Staff Sgt. Scottie McDaniel (right), a Burlington, N.C., native and a combat marksmanship trainer with Bridge Company, 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, and Cpl. Tyler Comar (left), a Hillsborough, N.C., native, supervise Marines during the table three and four portions of the combat marksmanship program aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., March 10, 2014. Marines with the company fired more than 7,000 rounds during day and night shoots.
(U.S. Marine Corps photos by Lance Cpl. Shawn Valosin)
Chances to train for these missions are at a premium for the unit designed to turn water into land.
Thus, they gathered in the darkness, rifles in hand. More than 30 of the company's Marines used their unique water-borne capabilities to ferry their gear and equipment across the river.
They set up their tents and began their dry run through the Marine Corps' Intermediate and Advanced Combat Rifle Marksmanship tables – characterized by quick reaction shooting and moving to engage targets.
Cpl. Tyler Comar, a Hillsborough, N.C., native and a combat engineer with the company served as the combat marksmanship trainer responsible for making sure everything ran efficiently.
“All these guys out here are your buddies,” said Comar. “I know I love to shoot, and I know these Marines love to too, but nobody wants to shoot if the range doesn't run smoothly.”
Comar walked the line of Marines, shouting commands as volleys tore through the targets.
Lines of Marines shifted on their feet, with their eyes never leaving the target. Though anxious to unleash hellfire on their paper foe, they waited and listened intently for the command, “TAR-GETS!” On the cusp of that one word all Marines fired.
The course itself is an extension of each Marine's annual rifle marksmanship training, designed to advance marksmanship with combat shooting fundamentals. Rather than standing still while firing three-shot drills, each Marine engages the enemy on the move and from multiple distances, bringing more realistic scenarios to the range.
The Marines wore full body armor. With their cumbersome load now baking under the midday sun, they fired shot after shot. Comar walked the line of shooters and observed their performance, offering tips along the way.
Even the number of rounds fired by Bridge Company, more than 7,000 during the course of the range, was designed to create a level of comfort and familiarity between the shooter and his weapon.
Once the sun set and the moon rose, Marines donned night vision goggles and started the nighttime portion of the range. Infrared lasers attached to their rifles allowed them to see their points of aim without giving away their position. They changed directions on the shooting line and walked towards their foe, following the laser lines in the night and firing.
“The night shoot was difficult, but we're doing what Marines do,” said Lance Cpl. Michael Bostic, a Dublin, Ga. native and combat engineer with the company. “Working in a shop all the time isn't enough. When we get to come out and shoot, I feel like I'm doing something important.”
After the dust settled, and only the remains of the paper targets were left, they packed up their gear, thoroughly cleaned the ranges, and settled back into their tents for the night. At daybreak, they broke down their camp and headed for the coast and their waiting boats.
By U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Shawn Valosin
Provided through DVIDS
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