FORT A.P. HILL, Va --
Looking across the field, Marines could be seen preparing weapons from 81 mm mortars to M-16 A2 service rifles. The snipers even made a brief appearance, emerging from the woods to receive their ammunition and brief, then without notice they disappeared back into the brush. The Marines quickly filled their magazines preparing to head out on patrol.
These Marines are not in Iraq or Afghanistan, they are at Exercise A.P. Hill preparing for an upcoming deployment. The training evolution lasted from May 18 through June 4.
For the Marines of Company I, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, the day of live fire began with overcast skies, but the poor weather conditions didn’t dampen their spirits. The training event involved every aspect of the company working simultaneously.
“We are conducting company attacks,” said 1st Sgt. Edwin Mota, the company first sergeant. “It involves several elements in the battalion including 81 mm mortars for indirect fire, communication, combined anti-armor teams, snipers and should we need air support we have an air controller attached to us. We also have a medical officer and ambulance on-site, basically all of the components of an infantry company in country.”
With all of the company’s assets being used in the exercise, several of the new Marines had an opportunity to solidify everything they had practiced at Camp Lejeune.
“This training is very important for new Marines,” Mota said. “We have a lot of new Marines integrating into the battalion, and the most important thing for these Marines is to learn the battalion’s standard operating procedures.”
For Lance Cpl. Reggie Harrison, a team leader with third platoon, this will be his first deployment and the exercise proved invaluable to helping him understand previous training.
“I’m really excited, and I’m ready to go,” Harrison said. “The training has been really good. We’ve been working hard, but it helps being able to apply what we have learned. It makes everything that we’ve been practicing make sense.”
Like the new Marines, those who have already deployed also gained valuable practice and an opportunity to help younger Marines.
“The training is helpful for the new Marines because they learn a lot from their mistakes,” said Sgt. Than Naing, acting third platoon sergeant. “They learn how to conduct patrols, fire and maneuver and how to work with a radio. It is an opportunity for them to make mistakes, learn from them and become better Marines.”
Although, Naing has previously deployed, he still received a great personal benefit from the training.
“I am here to get training myself while training my Marines and motivating them,” he said. “All of that is important. I want to train good solid Marines, so they can lead the way in the future.”