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    Behind the Firing Line: A Look into the Primary Marksmanship Instructor

    Behind the Firing Line: A Look into the Primary Marksmanship Instructor

    Photo By Lance Cpl. Michelle Brudnicki | Sgt. Chase R. Day, with Weapons and Field Training Battalion, demonstrates the prone...... read more read more



    Story by Lance Cpl. Michelle Brudnicki 

    Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island           

    Early in the morning on Parris Island, a certain type of Marine can be found writing on their chalkboard at the rifle range. They set up turn charts that break down every detail of handling and maintaining an M16A4 service rifle and ready themselves to spend the next two weeks teaching everything they know about marksmanship to the next group of future United States Marines. These Marines are Primary Marksmanship Instructors.
    Sergeant Chase R. Day, from Columbus Ga., is one such Marine. An infantryman with a passion for instilling his knowledge and expertise into those under his instruction, Day has spent his time on Parris Island making the best riflemen he can.
    Day has had the idea of being a PMI in his head since his own grass week during recruit training in 2016.
    “I was in shed number four on Starlite range,” said Day. “They kept telling us ‘The PMI is going to teach you’ and I just thought, ‘What is a PMI?’ A Marine walked in, who was definitely not a drill instructor, wearing a campaign cover and a funny jacket and I just looked at him and thought immediately “I want to be him.”
    That Marine, Cpl. Cameron Gunn, taught Day and his fellow recruits not only about their rifles, but also about life in the Marine Corps.
    “He was an infantryman,” said Day. “That’s what I was joining for so of course recruit Day was just eating it up.”
    He listened intently to his PMI and became more sure that the job was meant for him.
    “It just hit me,” said Day. “I said to myself “I want to do that one day, and if I get the opportunity to be a PMI I’m going to take it”.
    A few years later, that opportunity did arise and Day’s goal was accomplished. Now, he embodies that same inspiration and passion that Cpl. Gunn gave him and shares it every day with his own recruits.
    “I try to make an impact on all my recruits,” Day said. “I have a passion for shooting and for the history of Parris Island. I’d like for that to get across to as many of these kids as possible.”
    Day uses the time with his recruits to create a relaxed environment that encourages them to be as enthusiastic about the intricacies of marksmanship as he and his fellow PMIs are.
    “I teach them about life, I talk to them,” said Day. “I learn about where they’re from and what they did before the Marine Corps. I get to teach them about the Marine Corps outside of their boot camp perspective and it’s very rewarding.”
    Being relaxed and level-headed is important when it comes to marksmanship. Day emphasizes to his recruits that they can feel comfortable and ask as many questions as they need, to ensure that he’s doing his part to create high-quality riflemen.
    “Up to this point in training, recruits only see drill instructors,” said Day. “That’s all they know, that’s what they think everything is in the Marine Corps and when they first encounter a PMI, they see that I’m just a normal Marine.”
    Sgt. Michael Longo, also a PMI with Weapons and Field Training Battalion, speaks highly of Day’s performance as a PMI.
    “As a PMI, he is one of the most dedicated and hardworking Marines I have ever had the pleasure of working with,” said Longo. “He is with his platoons earlier and leaves later to allow the most time possible with the recruits.”
    Longo, who has worked with Day many times before, has experienced this passion first hand.
    “Passionate does not even begin to describe the work ethic of Sgt Day,” Longo says. “He embeds himself with a platoon from the first minute of grass week to the very last round fired from their rifles. He works countless hours and refuses to leave any recruit behind. He is not only passionate about instilling good marksmanship practices, but also the influence he has on new Marines. He is just as proud as any parent on graduation day.”
    Though most people primarily think of drill instructors when it comes to recruit training, they become background voices once it comes to the range.
    “We are the subject matter experts on range and marksmanship,” Day said. “The drill instructor’s job is to teach everything else, shooting is ours.”
    Marines are hand selected to become instructors. Not everyone can put on a campaign cover and a jacket and just start teaching a platoon.
    “You have to understand how recruits learn,” Day said. “You have to be able to spin it to them in a way they’ll understand.”
    The enthusiasm and focus of his recruits and the praise of his fellow instructors speaks to how well Day understands how to get through to his platoons.
    “Sgt Day is constantly coming up with new ways of explaining the same concepts,” said Longo. “He has a library of references when he encounters a recruit who may learn differently from the majority.”
    An internet search for ‘primary marksmanship instructor’ doesn’t yield many results. This isn’t news to Day, who has spent much of his time finding out more about those who came before him.
    “In the Marine Corps everything is history,” said Day. “Everything down to the buttons on our dress blues is historical. Why not PMIs?”
    It is unusual that more isn’t known about the primary marksmanship instructor, given the Marine Corps itself is an institution shrouded in history.
    “As PMIs we want our story told so we do have a history,” said Day. “Right now, we don’t really have one. A lot of hard-working instructors come out here, put in the work with these recruits, and we’d like to be remembered.”
    He goes on to talk about how World War II veteran and author Robert Leckie, Marine Corps icon Chesty Puller, and countless other notable Marines trained aboard Parris Island throughout its history. He talks about how the ranges have remained largely unaltered since World War I, and about the old 600 yard line that used to be a part of the course of fire.
    Knowing that he is training future Marines in the same place and in the same manner as those before him gives Day the sense of pride and determination he exemplifies daily. His respect for the history of his job contributes to his passion and how he teaches his recruits.
    “Just the fact that I get to walk in these Marine’s footprints and impact these recruits’ lives is powerful,” said Day. “That’s why I love this job.”



    Date Taken: 06.17.2021
    Date Posted: 06.17.2021 15:44
    Story ID: 399213
    Location: PARRIS ISLAND, SC, US 

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