'Island Warriors' go live at Lava Viper

17 Nov 2014 | Lance Cpl. Brittney Vella The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website

Pohakuloa Training Area on the Big Island of Hawaii is located 6,000 feet above sea level with hills overlaid in sharp, jagged lava rock. This is where Hawaii-based Marines go for Exercise Lava Viper, a building block in Hawaii-based Marines’ pre-deployment training.

The “Island Warriors” conducted live-fire exercises on the offense and defense Nov. 6 through 8, at Range 10, in support of Exercise Lava Viper. 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment has been training in preparation for Integrated Training Exercise in Marine Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., where the battalion gets evaluated as a whole.

“In the infantry we have to hit certain training standards to be fully trained and able to deploy,” said 1st Lt. Oliver Noteware, Fox Company executive officer of 2nd Bn., 3rd Marines. “PTA is a great place to conduct this training because on our home island of Oahu we are severely restricted when conducting (platoon-level) attacks.”

Lava Viper allows the battalion to practice their logistical movement as well as tactical training. Headquarters and Service Company within the battalion is critical, Notewear said. Each shop is crucial to ensure the training runs properly. The Marines of Fox Company are approaching the end of Lava Viper, and have improved their skills and are developing well together, Noteware said.

“Morale is very high,” Noteware said. “Fox Company is doing well as we progress between each of the stages of this training. The (Marines) get more and more excited because they are doing bigger operations, with more assets. This is one of the only times that (Fox Company) will spend in the field together as a company, out in the elements, just us — so it leads to a lot of unit cohesion.”

The better the Marines get to know each other the better they will work together as a unit, he said. While training at the Platoon Battle Course, Range 10, the Marines conducted live-fire simulated operations against the “North Shillian Forces.” They have also been engaging in platoon-sized attacks on the offense and defense.

While on the offense, Marines surged towards their objective. Each squad had a different purpose, whether they were machine gunners, assaultmen, riflemen or engineers, they all had a specific job that was paramount in the completion of the mission. While on the defense, the Marines held their position and suppressed heavy fire to force the “enemy” to retreat.

The “North Shillians” counterattacked with grenades of tear gas — forcing the Marines to properly use their M50 gas masks and stay in the fight against the enemy forces. The tear gas helped the Marines utilize their gas masks in case they were ever put into a situation where a nerve agent was used in a real combat situation. The Marines have come along and are working well as a unit, said 1st Sgt. Jody Armentrout, Fox’s company first sergeant.

“Fox is always motivated,” Armentrout said. “The Marines are strong and are showing a lot of improvement. We are all proud to be a part of 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines.”