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Photo Information

Cpl. Victor Pascacio, a Squad Leader with 1st Platoon, Animal Company, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, fires controlled shooting at his target during Combat Marksmanship Training aboard the USS Denver (LPD9), Sept. 19.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Tyler C. Vernaza

31st Marine Expeditionary Unit remains combat ready while afloat

24 Sep 2010 | Lance Cpl. Tyler C. Vernaza

Marines and sailors with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, onboard the USS Denver (LPD9), participated in enhanced marksmanship live fire drills, Sept. 19.

Marines and Sailors began the day shoot around 4 p.m. and then executed a low-light shoot a short time after sundown.

“We need to be prepared for any situation, day or night,” said 1st Lt. Ryan Tice, executive officer for Animal Company, Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 31st MEU.

The training helps to enhance the combat readiness of the MEU; service members practiced the fundamentals of basic marksmanship.

 “During the shoot the Marines and sailors will be focused on trigger control, magazine retention, tactical and speed reloads and close-quarter’s marksmanship,” said Cpl. Timothy Doak, squad leader with 1st Platoon, A Co., BLT 1/7.

Tice said he is focused on keeping his Marines combat ready at all times.

“These are perishable skills, and on ship it is easy for these skills to atrophy,” he added.

For most of these Marines, it is their first time with a MEU. The training is not only used to help the troops stay alert, but for the leaders as well; to show them how to outline and conduct live fire training aboard ship.

The Marines and sailors conducted a number of different drills during the exercise, enhancing their combat mindset.

At the 25-yard-line, service members practiced shooting drills and tactical reloads while instructors watched closely for magazine retention.

After moving to the 15-yard-line, the troops practiced 90 degree pivot shooting drills to the left and two-shot drills.

An important part of the training happened at the 5-yard-line where the Marines practiced recovering from the three classes of weapon malfunctions.

 “We purposefully give our weapons these malfunctions. We practice failure to fire, misfeeds and double feeds for muscle memory,” said Cpl. Victor Pascacio, squad leader with 1st Platoon, A Co., BLT 1/7. “It’s very possible for us to have one of these malfunctions in a real-life situation. Our life and the lives of the Marines around us depends on how fast we can correct the situation."

Four Sailors with the USS Denver’s Visit Board Search and Seizure force also participated in the training.

“The Navy shoots for marksmanship qualification only,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Zoar Watts, a Gunner’s Mate with the USS Denver. “This is helpful for the sailors to get all the training they can.”

If a sailor wants this type of training, they have to attend a VBSS course or the Sentry Reaction Force course, a prelude to VBSS, said Watts.

Marines and sailors will be conducting more training exercises similar to this one while at sea. Tice added, “Right now we have a machine gun shoot and a pistol range planned for additional training while aboard the Denver.”

31st Marine Expeditionary Unit