5TH FLEET AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY --
Marines with Charlie Battery, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), conducted quarterly maintenance on their M777 Howitzers aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), Dec. 18.
It is essential for Marines and Sailors with the 11th MEU to maintain their own physical and mental skill sets while maintaining the weapons they use. In order to keep a Howitzer operating at full capacity, Marines must conduct routine maintenance so they are at optimum efficiency when called upon.
“We do maintenance on our guns regularly, especially on ship,” said Sgt. Bradley Gaylord, a section chief with Charlie Battery and St. Louis native. “It’s important that we make sure certain parts get hit that don’t get hit as often.”
Charlie Battery provides the MEU with a quick reaction, stationary, support by fire element. The Howitzer is their biggest weapon of choice and has the most destructive power. Although powerful and effective, it takes a high number of Marines to keep a Howitzer mission ready at all times.
Despite the tediousness of maintaining the Howitzer, Marines in Charlie Battery already know what is required to keep it clean and working correctly.
“When we get told to do maintenance, we already know what to do, “ said Lance Cpl. Jose Floress, a canonier with Charlie Battery and San Jose, California native. “Whether it be changing out the tires or changing out the brakes, we know what it takes to keep it running smoothly 24/7.”
Conducting maintenance is more than just keeping the Howitzer clean. Gaylord sees the bigger picture.
“This gun is an expensive piece of equipment with a lot of moving parts,” said Gaylord. “Each moving part serves a purpose and if it’s not kept clean or lubricated then the whole thing can fall apart. Even with all the parts working at 100 percent, it’s hard to keep it running.”
Charlie Battery conducts routine maintenance on the Howitzer daily, while also conducting quarterly checks. They will continue to keep the Howitzer, as well as their other weapons, mission ready through the rest of the 11th MEU’s underway period.