Marines Unload During MK 19 Qualifications

Marines Unload During MK 19 Qualifications

LCpl Brett Haertling, an intelligence analyst with Scout Platoon, 2nd Tank Battalion, and a Jackson, Miss. native, makes a fully loaded Mk 19 automatic grenade launcher ready to fire by pulling back on the charging handle during an annual qualification at training area G-7 aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Jan. 21, 2015. Marines with the unit launched grenades at various, non-moving targets between 400 and 1,500 meters away to prove their level of marksmanship. Photo by Cpl Kristin Merrimarhajara.

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (Jan. 23, 2015) – "Full load!" shouts a machine-gunner, signifying that he is ready to unload grenades onto a target. A rhythmic burst explodes from the gun, followed by a cloud of red dust engulfing an abandoned tank. His aim was spot on.

Approximately 20 Marines with Scout Platoon, 2nd Tank Battalion qualified using a Mk 19, a 40 mm, belt-fed automatic grenade launcher, in the turret of a Humvee Jan. 21 and 22, 2015, at training area G-7 on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Marines practiced firing during both the day and the night; firing a pre-qualification and then qualifying round with the machine guns.

The pre-qualification allows a Marine to demonstrate his raw skills using the Mk 19 by hitting single and multiple targets with a set amount of rounds in an allotted time. 

After this demonstration, section leaders have the opportunity to coach their Marines so they can do their best during the qualification round.

"Training like this is important, because it shows me where my guys' skills are with the gun and allows me to refine them if necessary," said Cpl Nicholas Lemieux, a section leader with the platoon and Minneapolis native. "I think it's important to maintain mission readiness, because I wouldn't want to go into a fight with a guy up in the gun who doesn't know what he's doing."

Seeing the red dust hit the appropriate target allowed many young Marines the opportunity to feel confident in their abilities to operate a Mk 19. For some, it was their first time shooting the automatic grenade launcher.

"I was really excited behind the gun today because this was my first time qualifying on the Mk 19. It was a lot different from other machine guns I've shot before, especially since it was mounted onto a vehicle," said LCpl Brett Haertling, an intelligence analyst with the unit and Jackson, Missouri native. "After the training, I feel completely comfortable operating this weapon."

The unit requires Marines to qualify on the Mk 19 at least once a year, as it is pertinent to keeping the platoon safe.

Although the scout platoon performs a lot of reconnaissance work on foot, the machine guns provide security while the platoon completes its mission, Lemieux said.

The platoon will continue to practice reconnaissance and machine gun firing during a "Deployed for Training" exercise at Fort Picket, Virginia, at the end of February.

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