Photo Information

Sgt. Anthony Jacks emplaces a Claymore mine during a live-fire exercise here Sept. 20. Jacks and other Marines from Reconnaissance Platoon, Battalion Landing Team 2/4, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, practiced insertion methods and conducted live-fire weapon shoots Sept. 17-22 for final training before deploying with the MEU Sept. 24.

Photo by Sgt. Scott Biscuiti

Recon wraps up comprehensive training before heading to sea

23 Sep 2009 | Sgt. Scott Biscuiti 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit

The 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s reconnaissance platoon trained for six days in Hawaii, returned to San Diego Sept. 23 and deployed with the MEU the following day.

Live-fire ranges, an airfield and boat ramps, all in close proximity to each other, afforded the Marines a chance to parachute, dive, cast themselves from helicopters, swim, insert beaches on rubber boats, detonate grenades and claymores, and shoot a menagerie of weapons.

Kaneohe Bay’s tropical weather, crystal-clear ocean water and mountain ridges whetted some appetites for rest and relaxation, but the Marines were there to train.

“We are able to do the things (here) that we are not able to do anywhere else,” said Gunnery Sgt. Brad Colbert, the reconnaissance platoon sergeant.

The bulk of the platoon’s training was practicing methods of insertion including helo-casting, diving and parachuting.  

Members of the platoon sustained their abilities at diving with the Dräger LAR-V MK 25, an underwater breathing apparatus used for clandestine underwater insertion, and helo-casting, dropping a combat rubber reconnaissance craft and its crew into water from a helicopter.

The Marines spent two days at ranges to maintain weapon proficiency.

Cpl. Joe Missildine, a 22-year-old reconnaissance man from Amity, Ore., took top honors with his M203 40 mm grenade launcher, blasting rusty tank hulks with round after high-explosive round during a live-fire shoot.

“This is the first time during work-ups that I’ve been able to shoot my (M203 grenade launcher) without leaf sights,” said Cpl. Joe Missildine, 22, from Amity, Ore. “We used every single weapon system we have.”

On the last day of training, the recon Marines applied many of their skill in a culmination exercise including surface craft, amphibious equipment, and their weapons.

Each of the three fire-teams in the platoon swam nearly 200 meters to shore where they stowed their wet gear, loaded their weapons, and began the live-fire portion.

“Getting to go right from a wet insert to the range was great,” Missildine said. “It helps you figure out what works and what doesn’t.”

In addition to firing their personal weapons, the Marines received a refresher in using incendiary and fragmentation grenades and claymore mines.

“Everything we’ve done here, we’ve done to maintain our proficiency,” Colbert said.

On the morning of Sept. 23, the Marines boarded a KC-130 turboprop airplane and flew to San Diego where they boarded USS Bonhomme Richard. The following morning the platoon and 1,200 other MEU Marines and sailors pulled out of port and headed for the Western Pacific.

Marine Corps News

Colonel Thomas M. Siverts
Commanding Officer

Colonel Tom Siverts is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in August 1989. He achieved a commission as a Second Lieutenant through the Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program following his graduation from the University of Virginia in May 1999. Colonel Siverts has deployed in support of Operations DESERT SHIELD, DESERT STORM, IRAQI FREEDOM, and ENDURING FREEDOM. His other operational deployments include serving with Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 2/8, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU); BLT 3/8, 22d MEU; BLT 2/8, 26th MEU, and Task Force 61/2.

Read Biography

Lieutenant Col. Steven M. Sprigg
Executive Officer

LtCol Sprigg was born in Parkersburg, WV. LtCol Sprigg enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in September 2004 and recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, SC. LtCol Sprigg was selected for the Enlisted Commissioning Program and commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in March 2008. He was designated a Naval Aviator in February 2011 and reported to HMLAT-303 for training as an AH-1W pilot. LtCol Sprigg is currently serving as the Executive Officer for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit in Camp Pendleton, California.

Read Biography

Sergeant Major Travis L. DeBarr
Sergeant Major

Sergeant Major DeBarr enlisted in the Marine Corps and reported to MCRD San Diego, CA, for recruit training in October 1994.Staff Sergeant DeBarr completed two combat tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from September 2005 to April 2006 and again form March 2007 to September 2007. While serving with 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines, First Sergeant DeBarr completed one combat deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, from October 2012 to May 2013. Sergeant Major DeBarr currently serves as the Sergeant Major for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

Read Biography