News: 8th ESB stays sharp on the trigger
Story by Cpl. Shawn Valosin
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - Marines with Alpha Company, 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group assaulted the SR-8 range here with M-249 Squad Automatic Weapons, M-240B medium machine guns and the Corps’ old work horse, the M-2 .50-caliber machine gun, April 14.
“We want to familiarize our Marines with the weapons systems they will be using on convoys or in tactical environments,” said Sgt. Matthew Monteforte, a State College, Pa., native and platoon guide with Alpha Co. “Some of these Marines haven’t fired machine guns since Marine Combat Training. This allows them to get hands on with the actual machine guns and builds their confidence with the weapons systems.”
Approximately 33 Marines with 8th ESB attended the training. They received classes the week prior to firing and additional instruction the morning of the shoot.
The courses covered characteristics of the machine guns such as rates of fire and maximum effective ranges. They also reviewed operating procedures, maintenance and immediate actions designed to clear jams and keep the weapons blazing on the firing line.
“I love getting to shoot guns that are bigger than myself,” said Lance Cpl. Julianna Bolanos, an Austin, Texas, native and combat engineer with the company. “It’s good knowledge to have, so if we get deployed we’ll be confident in our abilities to use the weapons systems.”
The Marines fired at targets ranging from 100 yards to 400 yards away. Prior to firing each weapon, the shooters were required to answer a question about that particular machine gun from the personnel safety officers.
The Marines slid behind their machine guns on the firing line early in the afternoon and released more than 2,000 rounds in controlled bursts under the guidance of their PSOs.
Marine units routinely use each of the weapons systems fired by 8th ESB in deployed environments, whether mounted on a vehicle, carried by hand or nestled inside a helicopter.
Proficiency with the guns is crucial, especially for the Marines with the battalion, who not only carry out their own missions, but routinely augment other units in operational environments.
Alpha Co. spent more than three hours conducting drills at the range, ensuring that every Marine had the opportunity to get hands on with the weapons and left confident in their ability to employ them at a moment’s notice.