CAMP LEJEUNE, North Carolina -- Thunderous explosions from hand grenades, continuous cracks of machine-gun fire and the unique sound of tank tracks tearing through the mud created the symphony of a battalion field exercise.
Marines and sailors with 2nd Maintenance Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, conducted a field exercise Sept. 18-Oct. 1, 2014, to reinforce their ability to accomplish battalion-level, mission essential tasks at Landing Zone Bluebird, aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.
One of the initial events was familiarization with hand grenades, where Marines tossed a series of practice grenades to become accustomed to the weight and feel before throwing a live M67 Fragmentation Hand Grenade. Using training grenades before live training with the M67 helps build confidence while ensuring safety.
“This training helps Marines gain confidence in the throw distance of the hand grenade and grenade features, in a safe training environment,” said Staff Sgt. Isaiah Kramer, a mechanic chief with the battalion, and Martinsburg, Missouri native.
The Marines also completed annual training requirements during the field exercise, with 34 Marines firing 2,500 .50-caliber rounds, and 5,000 7.62 mm rounds at a multi-purpose machine gun range, to reinforce proficiency and confidence with the M240B and M2 weapon systems. Proficient machine-gun teams are essential to one of the battalion’s roles as a support element.
“We conduct training to meet the battalion’s core task to provide rear area security in a forward deployed environment,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Matthew K. Johnston, the executive officer for Maintenance Company, 2nd Maint. Bn., 2nd MLG, and Orlando, Florida native. “It supports that by training dedicated machine-gun teams for the battalion.”
Another critical support mission of the battalion is vehicle recovery, using the M88A2 Hercules Recovery Vehicle to retrieve immobilized vehicles. Twenty Marines with the battalion conducted recovery training and night patrols on trails using three of the M88 vehicles.
The M88 uses a winch and pulley system to recover downed vehicles. The pulley attaches to the vehicle with a metal cable that is as thick as a baseball bat, and is able to tow up to 70 tons. While all of the Marines know the vehicle’s capabilities and are proficient in its handling, it is important to practice in realistic scenarios.
“Recovery operation training like this helps keep Marines tactically and mechanically proficient in their job,” said Staff Sgt. Travis Watson, a mechanic crew chief with the battalion Pawleys Island, South Carolina. “By adding in natural challenges like the thick mud and darkness, as well as having Marines preform security all around the vehicles, we can simulate an overseas recovery operation to build confidence.”
The battalion conducts this field training exercise annually in order to demonstrate and verify the ability to deploy a task-organized maintenance detachment in support of II Marine Expeditionary Force and to maintain proficiency, both mechanically and tactfully.
“They conduct annual familiarization to better prepare for any situation, such as a kinetic environment while in a forward operating position,” said Staff Sgt. Beau Rhodes, a maintenance chief with the battalion, and Sterling, Illinois, native.
The field exercise helped the Marines and sailors understand their jobs in a simulated deployed environment, ensuring they are the most ready to deploy in response to potential emergent crises.