MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, KANEOHE BAY --
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.