Photo Information

Capt. Leonard J. Niedosik, the Battery A 2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion commanding officer keeps an eye on 5.56mm ammunition and practice Stinger Missles while the unit transports it via MV-22B Ospreys to Air Force Dare County Bombing Range Mar. 7. Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 266 assisted 2nd LAAD with the transportation of their ammo by aircraft in support of Exercise Sandman, a training evolution designed around combat communication operations.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Andrea Cleopatra Dickerson

2nd LAAD Marines practice ‘death from below’ during Exercise Sandman

15 Mar 2012 | Lance Cpl. Andrea Cleopatra Dickerson

After receiving the command, Marines from Battery A, 2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion engaged their targets.
Less than 20 Marines fired their M-4A1 Carbines and M-16A2 service rifles along the North Carolina outer banks at the Air Force Dare County Bombing Range, during Exercise Sandman, March 7-10.

“The purpose of this training was to gain experience conducting a combat operations center, become more proficient at firing 5.56mm rounds and get hands on experience with the Stinger missile,” said Capt. Leonard J. Niedosik, commanding officer of Battery A.

During Exercise Sandman the Marines fired a modified table 3 small arms shoot, set up field radio communication and fired dummy round Stinger missiles at low flying F-15E Strike Fighters from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C.

The training allowed the unit’s newest Marines to increase proficiency and confidence with their weapons, said Niedosik.

“I learned a lot here that I can take back with me and apply to my job,” said Pfc. Adam D. Boone, a field radio operator with Battery A. “I got to see how radio networks work, and now I know how to set them up.”

More than half of the Marines that participated are field radio operators by trade, said Niedosik.

“It’s important for them to know their job. You never know what could happen in an actual combat environment. There could come a time when they might have to put a missile on their shoulder and fire it.”

The range exists primarily to assist Air Force and Navy aircraft conducting close air support training, but it has been striving to support the endeavors of other branches of the military, said Joeseph Lafferty, manager of the range.

“The Marines are a perfect example of that,” he said.

Since its opening in the mid 1960’s, the bombing range has grown to encompass roughly 47,000 areas of wetlands, forest and open space, used for hands-on training for aircrews from four squadrons of the 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson AFB.

The pilots who train at the range are at various stages in their careers, said Lafferty. Some come straight from the training to gain much needed time flying, and others are getting back into the cockpit to refine their skills after supporting other roles and missions.

“2nd LAAD’s mission is to use the Stinger missile to provide air defense and conduct ground security,” said Niedosik.

It fits perfectly with the mission of the range, said Lafferty. “We love having the Marines come out here to train because what they do is very interesting, and it is just amazing to watch.”

Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point