News: Squad strengthens bonds through training
Story by Lance Cpl. Emmanuel Ramos
MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. – More than 140 Marines with Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment reserve unit out of Johnson City, Tenn., conducted live-fire squad maneuver attacks supported by machine gun fire at Range 11, on June 25.
The exercise was Lima’s final exercise of their required annual training, in which the Marines with 3/24 spent two weeks refreshing their skills in infantry tactics.
“Being a part of a reserve unit can be hard because you lose and gain Marines all the time,” said Sgt. Mikel Hensley, Lima Company, 2nd Squad, 1st Platoon, squad leader. “That makes it difficult to train together and get on the same page. That’s why this [annual training] is important.”
Hensley was given a situation brief by his platoon commander: Enemies operating in the area had fortified themselves in their last defensive position. Hensley’s mission was to defeat the enemy and destroy the enemy bunkers using a simulated light anti-tank weapon.
In preparation for his squad attack, Hensley built a terrain model used to brief his Marines. He also practiced dry runs, making sure each of his Marines knew all the hand and arms signals needed to maneuver his squad and the direction of fire.
“The heat is what makes this challenging,” said Lance Cpl. Jordan Franklin, Lima Company, 2nd Squad, 1st Platoon, rifleman. “You have to block out the elements and do what your squad expects of you.”
Not wanting to exhaust his Marines before their live-fire exercise, Hensley gave his squad a breather while he spoke to them about key things they needed to improve on, such as keeping enough distance between them.
“I know you’re all tired,” Hensley told his squad. “This is our last exercise. Let’s end it right and give it hell.”
Fired up from Hensley’s words, the squad geared up and took its position in the dense forest. Maintaining noise discipline and carefully maneuvering 300 meters through the woods, where they waited for the thunderous sound of the machine guns opening fire.
With the machine guns giving Hensley’s squad cover fire, the Marines broke through the tree line and rushed the enemy positions.
“It’s a rush,” said Pfc. Jordan Fleener, Lima Company, 2nd Squad, 1st Platoon, rifleman. “You’re in the moment and you just focus on what your job is, which is to hit those targets.”
Even though the squad assembled less than one week prior to coming to the annual training, the squad successfully maneuvered through the course and took no simulated casualties.
“You couldn’t tell [we’d been together less than a week] by the way we looked out there,” concluded Hensley. So far[being able to grow as a squad] has been the most rewarding.