News: Artillery Marines introduce family and friends to military training
Story by Sgt. Jacob Harrer
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. –Jackie O. Lewis experienced a taste of her husband’s military job when she completed the final portion of the Marine Corps Combat Fitness Test. Her heart pounded after she crawled through wet grass, zig-zagged around cones and carried a partner over her shoulders. She picked up two heavy ammunition boxes and sprinted toward the finish line to complete the test in less than four minutes, earning a first class qualification.
“This isn’t as easy as you guys make it look,” said Lewis, a 34-year-old native of San Diego. “I could feel every single muscle working. My heart was beating really fast and I had a hard time at the end… it makes me realize how intense the training is here.”
The Combat Fitness Test was part of “Jane Wayne Day,” an event for friends and families to experience training and see the equipment used by the Marines of 5th Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment here, April 21.
Guests also practiced martial arts moves, rode in an amphibious assault vehicle, fired M4 assault rifles, examined artillery weapons and machine guns, and witnessed live-fire demonstrations of an infantry assault and rocket launch.
The events immersed participants in military training to help them gain a greater appreciation for what the Marines go through on the job, including deployments, said Lt. Col. David R. Everly, the commanding officer of 5th Bn., 11th Marines.
“This is our marquee event to reach out to our extended families to ensure that the families understand that the unit cares and the unit’s here when their Marines leave and deploy,” explained Everly, a 40-year-old native of Inglewood, Calif. “It’s our opportunity to… have fellowship with our families.”
The live-fire demonstration featured Marines moving forward with Humvees and firing several machine guns, including the M240 medium machine gun and the M2 50-caliber machine gun.
Guests also witnessed the launch of six rockets from the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System. Loud roars echoed through the valley as the rockets disappeared over hills to the north, leaving trails of smoke from the launch site.
HIMARS rockets are able to strike targets at distances much greater than traditional artillery.
Many guests said they gained a greater understanding of the Marines and felt more secure knowing they were well equipped and trained.
“It makes me feel more comfortable knowing when they’re out that they do have all of these complex [weapon systems] that help them complete their mission,” said Evelyn C. Reynoso, a military spouse from Pasadena, Calif. “I’ve always felt nervous or scared with them being in another country and being in harm’s way, but I feel that with all of the technology that we have and the weapons that they use, that maybe I can rest at ease knowing they’re doing a good job out there.”