MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
The rattling wrathful sounds of an M2 .50-caliber Browning machine gun’s rounds fired down range are distinct – pop, pop, pop – as smoke exhausts from its charred barrel – exhaling brass to the ground below at nearly eight rounds per second.
The Marines of Battery B, 2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion, employed those harmonious, yet horrifying sounds Feb. 16, during weapons training with M2 .50-caliber Browning and M240B machine guns at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune’s range F-18.
“The ultimate goal of the training was to achieve efficient combat readiness by ensuring the Marines are more confident in the weapon systems – making them more proficient,” explained Gunnery Sgt. Jerry D. Brown, operations chief for 2nd LAAD’s Battery B. “We only do two live fires a year and any time we can get Marines out of the rear to put rounds down range, it’s a good thing.”
The Marines engaged targets at nearly 600 yards from turrets atop humvees, tripods on the ground and from the standard prone position.
Firing a weapon from a turret on top of a truck gives its operator a broader outlook and allows them to have 360 degrees of maneuverability, explained Cpl. Cameron S. Neivert, LAAD gunner with the battery.
“It can be a hassle moving around in the turret with a flack,” added Neivert, who was working as a coach during the live fire, “but the training builds better familiarization.”
Firing from a truck is geared more toward convoy type missions, explained Cpl. Alan J. Stanich Jr., LAAD gunner with the battery.
He added, “When we were in Afghanistan, we’d do security patrols that primarily incorporated firing from turrets.”
The Marines continually swapped out between the different weapon mounts and systems, holding their respective ammo in hand, which was either a box of M240B rounds or a strip of .50-caliber rounds draped over their shoulder.
For quite a few of the Marines, it was their first time firing the .50 cal said Neivert.
“We wanted to make sure they knew the weapon conditions, and if there was any type of stoppage, they knew how to take immediate and remedial action,” Neivert stated.
He also emphasized that it was important that the Marines take control of the weapon, rather than letting it control them.
“It builds confidence in their job,” Neivert said.
The Battery B Marines trained at the range the entire day, wanting to get everybody’s training complete, Brown explained.