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  • 2014
MASS-1 improves squadron readiness

By Cpl. J. R. Heins, Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point

Lance Cpl. Nathan Nguyen fires a M-1014 combat shotgun during a live-fire range at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Aug. 25, 2014. Nguyen is an aviation communications technician with Marine Air Support Squadron 1.
MASS-1 improves squadron readiness
Lance Cpl. Nathan Nguyen fires a M-1014 combat shotgun during a live-fire range at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Aug. 25, 2014. Nguyen is an aviation communications technician with Marine Air Support Squadron 1.
Lance Cpl. John Rueda, left, clears the chamber of a M-240B machine gun for Lance Cpl. Andy Jimenez during a live-fire range at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Aug. 25, 2014. Both Rueda and Jimenez are air support operations operators with Marine Air Support Squadron 1.
MASS-1 improves squadron readiness
Lance Cpl. John Rueda, left, clears the chamber of a M-240B machine gun for Lance Cpl. Andy Jimenez during a live-fire range at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Aug. 25, 2014. Both Rueda and Jimenez are air support operations operators with Marine Air Support Squadron 1.
Sgt. Cody Refior, left, observes Lance Cpl. Andy Jimenez, middle, and Lance Cpl. John Rueda while they fire a M-240B machine gun at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Aug. 25, 2014. Refior is an automotive maintenance technician, and Jimenez and Rueda are air support operations operators with the squadron.
MASS-1 improves squadron readiness
Sgt. Cody Refior, left, observes Lance Cpl. Andy Jimenez, middle, and Lance Cpl. John Rueda while they fire a M-240B machine gun at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Aug. 25, 2014. Refior is an automotive maintenance technician, and Jimenez and Rueda are air support operations operators with the squadron.
A M-240B machine gun sits on the firing line during a live-fire range at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Aug. 25, 2014. Marine Air Support Squadron 1 Marines refreshed their abilities on different weapons systems at the range.
MASS-1 improves squadron readiness
A M-240B machine gun sits on the firing line during a live-fire range at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Aug. 25, 2014. Marine Air Support Squadron 1 Marines refreshed their abilities on different weapons systems at the range.
Marines with Marine Air Support Squadron 1 fire the M-240B machine gun during a live fire-range at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Aug. 25, 2014. The squadron conducted the training as a refresher for Marines with little or no hands-on experience with crew-served weapons, including the M-240B machine gun.
MASS-1 improves squadron readiness
Marines with Marine Air Support Squadron 1 fire the M-240B machine gun during a live fire-range at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Aug. 25, 2014. The squadron conducted the training as a refresher for Marines with little or no hands-on experience with crew-served weapons, including the M-240B machine gun.
Lance Cpl. Ryan Pippen fires a M-1014 combat shotgun during a live-fire range at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Aug. 25, 2014. Pippen is an aviation communications technician with Marine Air Support Squadron 1.
MASS-1 improves squadron readiness
Lance Cpl. Ryan Pippen fires a M-1014 combat shotgun during a live-fire range at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Aug. 25, 2014. Pippen is an aviation communications technician with Marine Air Support Squadron 1.
More than 50 Marines with Marine Air Support Squadron 1 conducted M240B machine gun and M1014 combat shotgun training during a field exercise at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Aug. 25.
The purpose of the range was to train Marines to qualify as instructors within the squadron using different weapon systems, said 1st Lt. Phillip Thome, an air support control officer with MASS-1.

"The reason we are conducting this range is to familiarize our Marines with the different weapons systems that MASS-1 holds in its arsenal," said Thome, a prior infantry machine-gunner.

The Marine Corps emphasizes basic skills, said Thome, the officer-in-charge of the range. Having Marines who are capable of effectively employing the different weapons systems will help prepare the Marines of the squadron for deployment.

"The squadron now has 20 noncommissioned officers certified as range safety officers," said Thome, a native of Omaha, Neb. "Having these empowered Marines makes us more self-reliant."

Instructors within MASS-1 help junior Marines develop their combat skills, said Sgt. Samuel Westbrook, a tactical data systems administrator with the squadron. Most of the junior Marines have not been able to get hands-on with any weapon systems since their initial training at Marine Combat Training.

"After receiving instruction and certification, it is our job to pass on the knowledge to our Marines," said Westbrook.

As the Marine Corps shifts focus to return to its amphibious roots, the squadron plans to continue building on the basics of combat readiness, said Westbrook, a native of Sylvester, Ga.

"Our squadron, for the past decade, has been mainly supporting the aviation combat element, but traditionally we were with the ground combat element," said Westbrook. "As a squadron, we need to be ready to support everyone, which means maintaining standards for each Marine, not just in their military occupational specialty, but as a whole."

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