Making Marines: The Armory

PARRIS ISLAND, S.C., (September 29, 2011) -- The relationship between a Marine and his rifle begins when a depot armorer hands a brand-new recruit his M16. This is how the depot armorers contribute to the mission of making Marines.

During initial issue, the recruits are handed all the parts of the weapon, as well as rifle-cleaning equipment, a sling and magazines.

"Part of the reason [the armory] is important is because this is the first time a lot of recruits have ever handled a weapon," explained 40-year-old Master Sgt. Jason Armstrong, depot ordnance chief. "They get the rifles issued here, and they carry them around for three months."

The depot armory holds about 12,000 M16-A4 service rifles, most of which stay inspection ready, and about 600 rifles are issued weekly.

"The Marines tell the recruits about the weapons while they issue them," said Armstrong, of Richfield, Idaho. "They tell them how to clean and take care of it, as well as how to assemble and disassemble the weapon."

The rifles are also issued to depot permanent personnel for annual training.

Armstrong said although most Marines only see armory personnel issuing weapons at the window, the armorers take care of a wide range of tasks behind the scenes. The Marines working at the armory often find themselves arriving at their workplace as early as 4:30 a.m.

"What happens inside is where we count, repair and inspect all the weapons for the depot," Armstrong explained. "We've got it broken up into different sections, like Marines who go out to the ranges, Marines who issue weapons and Marines who repair weapons."

There could be up to five platoons of 80 recruits in one day to meet their rifles or part with them.

"It makes me feel like I have an important part in the Marine Corps," said 23-year-old Lance Cpl. Jose Rodriguez, an armorer. "They'll always remember how to carry and manage the weapon."

Rodriguez, from Chicago, regularly works in the issuing and receiving section in the sentry-guarded building, and often teaches the Corps' newest members what they hold in their hands.

"Every Marine remembers boot camp – they might not remember my name or face, but they'll always remember what I taught them," he said.

The Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System (DVIDS) is provided as a public service operated by Third Army/U.S. Army Central (ARCENT) on behalf of the Department of the Army in support of all branches of the U.S. military (Navy, Air Force, Marines) and its Coalition partners serving in the U.S. Forces Central Command (CENTCOM) area of responsibility.