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Marines with 2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion work together to visually locate an unmanned aerial vehicle target during PL-87 Stinger Missile live fire training at Onslow Beach, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. March 18, 2014.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Andrea Cleopatra Dickerson

2nd LAAD storms Onslow Beach during live fire training

21 Mar 2014 | Lance Cpl. Andrea Cleopatra Dickerson

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – More than 140 Marines with 2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion conducted PL-87 Stinger Missile live fire training at Onslow Beach at Camp Lejeune, N.C. March 18 – 19, 2014.

“The purpose of this training is to track live targets, giving the Marines the confidence they need to shoot their weapon systems while downrange,” said Sgt. Todd Grindstaff, the 2nd LAAD training chief.

Gunners with the squadron shot 70 live missiles at MQM-170 Outlaw unmanned aerial vehicles during the training to fulfill their annual training requirements. Supply, motor transport and communications Marines from Battery B, Battery A and Headquarters and Support Battery were on hand to support their brother-in-arms on the ground while they shot in disparate visibility conditions, including foggy and night conditions.

"The Marines donned gas masks to prepare for situations that may include chemical and biological attacks," according to Grindstaff.

Practicing their skills in environments that they aren’t used to will only help boost their confidence and show them that they have what it take to employ their missiles no matter the clime or place.

“This is something they’ve never done before,” he said. “After I did it the first time, I realized it wasn’t hard.”

The night conditions and gas masks were not the only things the Marines looked forward to during the training. They also anticipated meeting and greeting with the visitors who came to the training to see the battalion in action and share some words of encouragement.

“I’m delighted to be able to come down here and spend a few minutes with you all,” said Lt. Gen. Robert E. Schmidle Jr., the deputy Commandant for Aviation, during an informal conversation he shared with the unit.

Maj. Gen. Robert F. Hedelund, commanding general of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing; Col. Jeff S. Kojac, commanding officer of Marine Air Control Group 28; and Sgt. Maj. Christopher Robinson, sergeant major of 2nd MAW, all attended the training as observers. All attendees said they were amazed at the level of professionalism the Marines displayed.

Sgt. Maj. Robinson said it was his first time watching a night shoot and was amazed at how the Marines performed.

Their level of expertise and proficiency proves their combat readiness, he said.

“There was a point when [Low Altitude Air Defense Battalions] were going to go away because there were no missions for them,” he said. “But they have proven that they are needed, they are still a viable asset to the Marine Corps.”
Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point