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Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

MCT takes aim with M-240Gs

By Lance Cpl. Geoffrey P. Ingersoll | Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton | March 29, 2007

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Pvt. Jesus L. Corella squeezed the trigger and Pfc. Daniel J. Anderson, Corella’s assistant gunner, turned wide eyes downrange as the M-240G Medium Machine Gun belted rounds in response.

“If my mom knew I was doing this, she would freak out,” Anderson said. “That is one bad machine!” 

These Marines are not infantry. Anderson is an ammunition technician and Corella is an administrative clerk and both were firing the machine gun for the first time during their Marine Combat Training.

At MCT, combat instructors set their sights on supplying noninfantry Marines with a more in-depth education of warfighting techniques. Most of the combat instructors agreed that one of the more important details is the ability to handle and operate an M-240G.

“From my past experience, every convoy has not had an infantry escort,” said 27-year-old Sgt. Aaron J. Weakley, a combat instructor with Company I at Camp Pendleton’s School of Infantry.

“The majority of them will be going to Iraq or Afghanistan,” Weakley continued. “This training is important because infantry Marines aren’t going to be on convoys with them. They will man their own weapons, and they could put themselves and their convoy in jeopardy if they don’t know how to operate the ‘240 properly.”

A military convoy is a line of trucks and humvees traveling from Point A to Point B in a combat or danger zone. Convoys leave base most often for support missions and are commonly armed with a mounted M-240G Medium Machine Gun, among other weapons.

“Just because you’re not a machine gunner, doesn’t mean you won’t use a machine gun,” said 27-year-old Sgt. Matthew T. White, from Burbank, Calif.

White is a platoon sergeant with Company I, but his primary occupation is as a basic rifleman.

Like White, many of the weapons instructors have Marine occupations focused on the weapon they teach to students like Corella and Anderson.

“First and foremost, the instruction they receive is from an actual machine gunner. He is a duty expert,” White said.

Anderson was awestruck by the power of the M-240G Medium Machine Gun. He was also confident enough to apply that power by the end of training.

“The instruction and the practice and the evaluations, at first I wasn’t confident, but all of it actually helps,” said 19-year-old Anderson, from Harveyville, Kan. “The classes are good because you don’t have to rely on anyone else. You have the knowledge, so you have the power.”

The course consists of classroom instruction, dry fire, computerized virtual fire and live fire. Students also learn how to disassemble the weapon for cleaning purposes. Some MCT Marines have been known to race each other, timing themselves from disassembly to reassembly.

“You experience more of the weapon, and see how the parts work, so if you ever have any problems, you know what to do,” Anderson said.

Like Anderson, many MCT graduates share that confidence. Their sentiment is mirrored from the actions of their combat instructors.

The combat instructor’s job is to turn basic Marines into full-fledged riflemen, White said.

“When it comes down to it, they can implement this weapon and take out the enemy.”

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