Having a blast: Marines train with explosives

Having a blast: Marines train with explosives
Having a blast: Marines train with explosives

A Marine with Ammunition Company, 2nd Supply Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C. prepares to lift a M-107 155 millimeter projectile before placing it with other explosives destined to be destroyed, May 7, 2013. The M-107s, which were among hundreds of pounds of explosives, were no longer safe to fire in training or combat operations and were slated for demolition. Photo by LCpl Sullivan Laramie.

A cloud of smoke and fire bursts from a stash of obsolete ammunition during an explosive ordnance disposal, or EOD, exercise held by Ammunition Company, 2nd Supply Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., May 7, 2013. The company set up the explosives to prepare for possible EOD operations, which the unit may encounter in the future. Photo by LCpl Sullivan Laramie.

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (May 13, 2013) - A ball of fire exploded into the distant sky. It was followed closely by a pillar of dark smoke, which lingered for a moment before fading slowly into the wind. The Marines were silent, waiting for the low, delayed boom that followed moments later.

Marines with Ammunition Company, 2nd Supply Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group participated in an explosives ordnance disposal, or EOD, training exercise here, May 7.

"We [went] out to the demolition range and had some [EOD] technicians come and help us out," said PFC William L. Lowry II, an ammunition technician with the company. "They talked us through the steps, but we actually set up the explosives ourselves. We had to dig out trenches and place the ammunition inside so we could contain the explosions and make sure we destroyed all the ammunition."

The Marines wore eye protection and gloves to ensure safety while handling the ammunition, such as tear gas canisters and C-4 explosives, which were toxic. They also had to remain aware of their surroundings to stay safe. 

"I've never done this before," said Lowry, a native of San Antonio, Texas. "The EOD [technicians] made sure we were watching out because there may be unexploded munitions lying around. There are a lot of things that may not have gone off, and you never know what could be dangerous."

The Marines used shovels to dig shallow trenches, which they filled with condemned explosives. Ammunition technicians then set up a dual primer system at each stockpile. The system ensures the fuses would burn to the ammunition and cause detonation even if one of the fuses failed.

"The training was to make sure [ammunition technicians] know the proper way to lay down the ordnance and how to set it off safely," said Cpl Andrew R. Holland, an ammunition technician with the unit, who had not experienced a detonation exercise in three years. "Even though this is not our actual [military operational specialty], we need to know how to do this because we're next in line if EOD is unavailable. [Ammunition technicians] have got to know what they're doing if it ever comes down to that point."

Hundreds of pounds of unserviceable munitions were set up and the Marines with Ammunition Co. withdrew to a safe distance as EOD technicians lit the 18-minute fuses and fell back to safety.

Minutes later, the C-4 and Detasheet, a rubberized explosive similar to C-4, detonated and set off the rest of the ordnance.

"It's kind of cool to see a little bit of what EOD does and to see an explosion larger than the M-67 grenade during [Marine Combat Training]," said Lowry. "It's really interesting and I'm looking forward to more."

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