MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Marines with Weapons Company, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, fired mortar rounds at a training range aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., March 15, 2011.
The Marines fired 81mm mortars as part of a three-day fire support capabilities exercise integrating different fire support assets of the MEU.
“This is really important,” said Lance Cpl. Alex R. Bourgeois, a mortarman and Albury, Vt., native, assigned to Weapons Company. “There’s nothing in a book or class that compares to actually doing it.”
They practiced suppression fires and marking targets for air assets during the day and at night.
“This is what we do,” said 1st Lt. Tyler P. Kurtz, the 81mm platoon commander with Weapons Company, BLT, and Greensboro, N.C., native. “It’s our primary mission. The more we get out here and practice, the better it is for us.”
The Marines are working with a compressed timeline since the MEU was ordered to deploy. They train every day they can to be ready for any possible situation they could find themselves in while deployed.
“Right before kickoff time, this is pretty important,” said Kurtz. “We have three days to fire and this could be the last time, in a long time.”
This is especially essential for the newer Marines who have never deployed.
“We bring a lot to the table, and the junior Marines benefit from that,” said Bourgeois. “Our junior guys pick up on a lot of stuff. They’re smart. They want to learn and we want to teach them.”
As the Marines continue to train, they are uncertain of their mission when deployed, but confident in their abilities to execute whatever the mission may be.
“We are trained, prepared and ready as a unit to deploy and do what we need to do,” said Kurtz.
The Marines and sailors of the 22nd MEU are currently deployed with Amphibious Squadron 6 aboard the USS Bataan Amphibious Ready Group and will continue to train and test the MEU’s ability to operate as a cohesive and effective Marine Air Ground Task Force.
The 22nd MEU is a multi-mission capable force comprised of Aviation Combat Element, Marine Tilt Rotor Squadron 263 (Reinforced); Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 22; Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment; and its Command Element.