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Military

By USMC LCpl. Jovane Holland

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OKINAWA, Japan (2/22/2011) - Instilled with pride and a sense of loyalty to their jobs, many Marines will proclaim they work in the best military occupational specialty the Marine Corps has to offer.
Sgt. Dustin Zimmerman, section chief of Gun Team 2, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, is no different.

At the beginning of his Marine Corps career in 2004, Zimmerman enlisted as an Assault Amphibious Vehicle crewman, only to find out at Marine Combat Training that he had been switched to the artillery field.

Despite the last minute switch, Zimmerman remained optimistic.

“I knew there was no going back or changing anyone's mind, so I just rolled with it,” said the San Leandro, Calif. native.

Zimmerman completed the six-week Cannon Crewman Course in Fort Sill, Okla., where he later worked as an instructor, in order to earn the title of artilleryman.
Sgt. Dustin Zimmerman, section chief, Gun Team 2, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, prepares to explain the mechanics, characteristics, maintenance, firing protocol and new digital fire control system on the M777 Howitzer to Japan Ground Self Defense Force service members here Feb. 3, 2011. Photo by USMC Lance Cpl. Jovane Holland
Sgt. Dustin Zimmerman, section chief, Gun Team 2, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, prepares to explain the mechanics, characteristics, maintenance, firing protocol and new digital fire control system on the M777 Howitzer to Japan Ground Self Defense Force service members here Feb. 3, 2011. Photo by USMC Lance Cpl. Jovane Holland
Seven years later, with more than 50 exercises under his belt ranging from brief shoots to month-long training programs, Zimmerman maintains the stance that he has the best job in the Marine Corps.

“There are so many great things about artillery, besides the distinction of being ‘king in battle,'” said Zimmerman. “There's a great deal of diversity in this field when it comes to weaponry. Our fire power is unmatched- whether we're shooting the M2 Browning heavy machine gun, M-240B medium machine gun or the M777 Howitzer.”

The great deal of trust that comes with time in the handling of these weapons is also a plus when it comes to artillery, said Zimmerman.

“Artillery is a MOS where you have the opportunity to oversee and supervise at a much lower level,” he said. “I was a section chief at 19 years old, handling not only millions of dollars in equipment, but my fellow Marines' lives as well. It's a great responsibility that can't be taken lightly.”

Artillery is also unique in its nature of exposing Marines to different MOSs, said Zimmerman.

“When I'm training in the field, I'm more than an 0811 [artilleryman],” said Zimmerman. “Artillery Marines are proficient in motor transport, communications, you name it. We do a little of everything.”

When in the field, Zimmerman works to ensure supporting Marines get a chance to learn about artillery as well.

“Since I've been with Gun Team 2, I've primed and loaded rounds and helped during set-up and break-down,” said Lance Cpl. Adam Thompson, a motor transport operator with 3rd Bn., 12th Marines. “Sgt. Zimmerman is very helpful when it comes to learning more about the artillery field.”

The chance to fire some of the military's most complex weapon systems all around the world is the best part of it all, said Zimmerman.

“I've fired rounds from the M2 Browning heavy machine gun, M-240B medium machine gun and M777 Howitzer everywhere from Australia to Iraq,” said Zimmerman. “Not many people get to say that.”
By USMC LCpl. Jovane Holland
III Marine Expeditionary Force Public Affairs
Copyright 2011

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