Starting with the M-9 service pistol all the way to the Mark 19 40 mm grenade machine gun, if you like handling weapons the Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) of 2111, or a Small Arms Technician, might just be for you.
To the average service member, they may just be the Marine you hand your weapon off to after a long day at the rifle range. Except small arms technicians, also known as armorers, carry out many mission critical duties on the other side of their almost cartoon-like small windows positioned at the side of every armory. Let me take you “On the job” with one of Cherry Point’s own.
Lance Cpl. Mark A. Young, a native of St. Albans, Maine, is one of the few Marines you may be turning your service rifle back in to after a day of shooting at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point’s rifle range. Young started his journey to become a Marine Corps small arms technician in Ft. Lee Virginia, where all Marines designated the MOS go to learn their trade. At Ft. Lee, Young was taught the ins and outs of every small arms weapon system that the Marine Corps utilizes in the fleet. During his two and a half months, Young learned to break down, clean, service check, and reassemble every weapon from the M-9 service pistol to the Mark 19 40mm grenade machine gun.
“You have to be fast learner,” said Young. “You only have a few short weeks to master each weapon system that the Marine Corps has to offer.”
Currently stationed at MCAS Cherry Point, Young works to ensure the weapons are serviceable for the Marines qualifying on the rifle range. Since Cherry Point doesn’t permanently issue each Marine their own rifle, the armorers are left with the daunting task of managing the current “owner” of every single rifle. Along with issuing weapons for the shooting range, they also supply numerous ceremonies with the rifles they require to properly perform them. When not issuing out various weapons, Young performs pre-emptive maintenance and limited technical inspections to help ensure the safety of Marines and to prevent weapon malfunctions.
“Knowledge is key,” said Young. “The only way to get better is to keep learning from what’s been given to you.”
Marines are known for their expertise and precision when it comes to weapon operation, but it’s the small arms technicians that are the true masters. Out in the field or on the shooting range, it’s these Marines that help keep the Corps in prime fighting condition. They fulfill the need for functional weapons during marksmanship training and maintenance of the on-base weapons systems, a critical role within the Marine Corps.
“It prepares Marines for combat,” said Young. “Without the armory, there are no weapons and Marines are first and foremost riflemen.”