MASS-1 trains through rain for weapons familiarization
By Cpl. Neysa Huertas Quinones, Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point
Marines with Marine Air Support Squadron 1 reloaded their weapons and identified targets down range through veils of smoke and rain during a machine gun and shotgun range at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Aug. 27.
It wasn’t the fog of war- but it was a valuable experience for the more than 100 Marines who participated in weapons familiarization training with the M240B machine gun, Browning M2 .50-caliber machine gun and the M1014 combat shotgun.
“This type of training serves as a combat multiplier for the Marines,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jason Filauro, the acting company first sergeant for Headquarters Company with MASS-1. “The skills they learn here heighten their combat readiness and allow them to be better prepared to handle these weapons systems while on patrol or providing security on deployment.”
Marines from more than 10 different military occupational specialties within the squadron were granted the opportunity to receive refresher classes prior to handling the weapons systems in order to familiarize themselves with them.
“As Marines, we are all riflemen first,” said Cpl. Theophile Azongho, a warehouse clerk with MASS-1. “Getting the opportunity to get out from behind a desk and to be able to train with the weapons we would use while deployed someday makes us more confident in our combat readiness skills and the other skills that we have to offer.”
According to Filauro, the Marines received refresher training to hone their abilities with the weapons systems as many of the Marines typically work inside warehouses, behind monitors, or as administrators and do not get to handle the weapons often.
“The Marines were given the opportunity to fire each of the weapons multiple times and gain hands-on experience in an unfamiliar environment,” explained Filauro. “The experience allows them to improve crucial skills and become well-rounded Marines capable of using the skills they need while on deployment.”
The squadron also took advantage of the opportunity to grow as a whole unit while being on the range for approximately three days.
“This training is not only thoroughly educating us in valuable combat skills, but granting us an opportunity to meet other Marines in the squadron who we do not usually interact with,” said Azongho. “It helps us come together for a common goal and grow closer as a squadron.”
Proficient weapons skills are important for all Marines, according to Azongho.
Although many Marines do not work in a ground combat billet, they can be attached to a deployable unit where they may need these basic skills in order to contribute to the mission.