News: Flight of the bluebodies
Story by Sgt. Christopher Zahn
QUANTICO, Va. - Since the invention of the hand grenade, it has been a valuable weapon in the hands of properly trained troops. It’s small but packs a powerful punch, making it the preferred tool for clearing rooms, bunkers and entrenched enemy positions.
Students from A Company, The Basic School, learned the fine art of properly employing hand grenades as part of their six-month long training package to become infantry platoon commanders Jan. 5.
“It gives the officers the knowledge they are going to need to be able to teach the Marines they will be in charge of,” said Cpl. Steve Strycharz, the range safety officer and a combat instructor with Combat Instructor Company, Instructor Battalion.
Before the students are able to throw a live grenade, they must first practice with M69 practice grenades affectionately known as "bluebodies."
“The purpose of the bluebodies is to get them used to actually throwing a hand grenade,” Strycharz said. “We don’t want them going to the live pits, having a short throw and possibly put other Marines at risk.”
While the M67 fragmentation grenade isn’t very heavy, it only weighs 14 ounces or about the same as a soda can, it is still important that Marines orient their bodies in the proper way to hit the target accurately.
“Some of the things we look at are their stance, their posture, making sure that they’re doing it right, so when they do throw they will have the proper trajectory on it to drive that grenade where it needs to go,” Strycharz said.
They look at more than just stance and trajectory though. Hand grenades have three different safety features, the thumb clip, pin and spoon. The instructors keep a close eye on students as they remove the thumb clip and pin, because during those moments the temptation to move their hands off the spoon to wrench the pin out can be a fatal mistake.
“They make sure you have that death grip on it and you’re not walking around treating it like it’s a toy,” said 2nd Lt. Jacob Lovelady, a student with 5th platoon, Alpha Company.
Once they have passed the initial qualification with the bluebodies, the students move to the live fire range and get their first experience with the M67.
The grenade, which contains a mixture of the explosives TNT and RDX called Composition B, has a lethal radius of five meters and will wound within 15 meters. It has been successfully used with great effect in the streets of Iraq and mountains of Afghanistan.
“You can throw it from behind cover, without being seen by the enemy,” Strycharz added. “If you get enough arc on it, you can take out enemies hiding behind cover, bunkers, that type of stuff.”
“Being able to pull it off your gear and toss it makes it pretty effective at creating that shock and awe factor,” said 2nd Lt. David Patrick, a student with 6th platoon, Alpha Company.
After they throw the grenades, the students moved on to learning about the rest of the weapons and tactics organic to a Marine rifle platoon.