MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. - The Marine Corps prides itself on a long history of excelling at marksmanship. Every Marine is a rifleman first and foremost and every Marine maintains basic marksmanship skills to defend themselves in a combat situation.
The ability to teach these skills is another level. In order to properly instruct other Marines to become proficient marksmen, it requires time and dedication.
Nathan W. Meeks, a motor transportation operator with 1st Marine Logistics Group, Combat Logistics Battalion 5 of Combat Logistics Regiment 1, stands post as an entry control point guard during Steel Knight 15, 2014.
Nathan W. Meeks, a motor transportation operator with 1st Marine Logistics Group, Combat Logistics Battalion 5 of Combat Logistics Regiment 1, stands his post as an entry control point guard during Steel Knight 15 on December 16, 2014. As Meeks continues to perform his duties in the Corps, he does everything he can to better himself and the Marines around him. He's a prime example of how one Marine's actions can impact the entire Corps.(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. April Price)
Steel Knight is an annual exercise to train and prepare the 1st Marine Division for deployment as the Ground Combat Element of a Marine Air-Ground Task Force. Combined arms live-fire exercises, such as Steel Knight, ensure that the nation has a division that is fully prepared for employment as a maneuver force across the range of military operations.
When Meeks isn't occupied as a gate guard or a motor transportation operator, Meeks helps Marines refine their basic marksmanship skills on the firing line as a range coach.
“I like being Motor-T, but I love my job as a range coach,” said Meeks. “It's awesome to help Marines improve their marksmanship and it's a great feeling to know I made an impact, whether it's refreshing an officer on the basics or teaching a private from square one.”
Prior to becoming a Marine, this White Oak, Oklahoma, native spent most of his time shooting, whether while hunting or for fun. With hunting being a hobby, he explains that he would experiment with different weapons.
“I can definitely say I shot at least once every day,” said Meeks. “Rifles, pistols, bows, shot guns and even sling shots. I don't know, there's just something about lining up your sights and pulling that trigger that just gets me going.”
Marksmanship coaches analyze difficulties shooters may encounter during dry and live-fire exercises in all phases of the Marine Corps Marksmanship Program during qualification and re-qualification. Additionally, they assist in the operation of firing ranges.
They must be qualified with the service rifle with a classification of sharpshooter or above and complete a series of classes on marksmanship and delivering periods of instruction.
“As range coach, I usually pick out the difficulties of the shooters during dry and live-firing exercises and help them by providing corrective assistance to them to improve their marksmanship skill and confidence,” said Meeks. “Enforcing firing safety regulations, local range regulations and assist the range officer in the overall conduct of the range and training is also a part of what I do.
Meeks says he enjoys helping other Marines better understand the situation that they are put in, whether it be on the range or in the field.
“It can be just as fun to teach a class of Marines as well as being out on the range with them,” said Meeks. “I think the ability to watch what you taught them come into effect is the best part of teaching.”
While Meeks stood guard during SK 15, he and the other ECP guards frequently send notional situational reports, medical evacuation requests, and casualty evacuations to demonstrate proper execution and delivery of transmissions as if they were real-life situations.
The goal and purpose for practicing these drills is to inform and familiarize the Marines with each transmission. The ability to properly explain, demonstrate and teach your fellow Marines is an essential skill of its own.
“He's getting on the radio, teaching ECP Marines proper radio etiquette, how to deliver a proper salute report and 9 lines (medical evacuation requests), and we're working on a CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives) report, which not a lot of people get to do,” said from Sgt. Mathew A. Frechette, a field radio operator with CLR-1 and sergeant of the guard during Steel Knight 15. “With that said, Meeks took his spare time to study and examine examples of a CBRNE report, so he would be able to teach his peers.”
Frechette also mentioned Meeks' natural sense of leadership and hardworking mentality set him apart from his peers.
“He's a very good Marine, he's a go-getter. I don't have to be on him or tell him about certain things," said Frechette. “He's always where he needs to be when he needs to be there before I'm even there myself to tell him."
Being an asset and not a liability is something staff noncommissioned officers teach their junior Marines. It is important for each Marine to have a sense of initiative and the confidence to go forward and use it.
“I feel like I learned more from my time trying to figure things out on my own. I've realized that everyone doesn't always have time to explain something to you or have the answers. Sometimes you just have to search and ask for yourself if you want something done,” said Meeks. “I want to be able to at least know how to help someone find where to get their answer.”
Meeks explains that he joined the Marine Corps to do more with his life and to be a positive influence for people, especially his siblings.
“I want them to learn from both my successes and my mistakes. If it helps them, if it helps anyone in any way, I'll continue to better myself in order to be the best help I can. I think that's why I love shooting and being a coach so much,” said Meeks. “Not only is it something I love to do, but it's something that helps my fellow Marines."
As Meeks continues to perform his duties in the Corps, he does everything he can to better himself and the Marines around him. He's a prime example of how one Marine's actions can impact the entire Corps.
By U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. April Price
Provided through DVIDS
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