MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Shouts of ‘Back blast area, all clear!’ followed by the roar of missiles taking flight broke the tranquil morning at G3 range aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C. as Marines with 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment took the rare opportunity to conduct live-fire training with the Javelin and tube-launched, optically-tracked, wire-guided or TOW missile systems August 29, 2013.
Marines with 2nd battalion 9th Marines fired 19 TOW missiles and 6 Javelin missiles during the live-fire exercise August 29, 2013.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Eric M. Brown, the battalion gunner for 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines said, an entire platoon came for the training and that they brought out five shooters to the live-fire exercise.
It’s not often that these Marines get to take part in a live fire Javelin shoot , because the cost of a single Javelin missile is approximately $80,000, it is not easy shooting all the time. The Marines fired off around $250,000 worth of ammunition during the exercise, said Brown.
Although, Sgt. Johnny Jernigan has served for four years as an anti-tank missileman for 2nd battalion, 9th Marine Regiment andhas fired two Javelin missiles in combat, this was the first missile he has fired during training.
“Not everyone gets to shoot the Javelin, it’s like the great white buffalo,” Jernigan said. “Marines dream about getting to shoot it and so it’s pretty exciting when they actually get to.”
Jernigan said, shooting the Javelin gives a similar rush as sky diving. Your heart is racing right before you fire the missile.
Because of the rarity of live-fire opportunities, missilemen keep their training up-to-date by using simulators and other training opportunities.
When you are not shooting you’re constantly going over the weapon system and getting a feel for the hand controls and sights. There is a computer system that allows missilemen to simulate locking onto a target and firing the missile, aboard Camp Geiger, Jernigan said.
Throughout the training exercise Jernigan was the gunner for his two man team. While firing the Javelin he worked with Cpl. James Darius who is also an anti-tank missileman with 2nd battalion 9th Marines.
Communication is key to successfully firing the Javelin missile. The gunner is the one that locks onto the target and fires the missile while telling all this to his A-gunner (assistant gunner), so that in case something were to happen to the gunner his A-gunner could step in and finish the job, the gunner and A-gunner switch roles so they are both proficient in their jobs.
Marines transitioned from Javelins to TOWs after firing all the Javelin missiles during the live-fire exercise
It takes more than just a driver to get that Humvee up on the firing line, said Brown. There is a lot more that goes into the training other than just firing the missile.
“The training tests our equipment and it solidifies that the command capability is there and gives that Marine confidence in the weapon system,” Brown said.
Marines from 2nd battalion 9th Marines focus on their training so that they will be combat proficient when the time comes.
“I want these Marines to take the confidence and experience that they learn here to when they are out in country,” Brown said. “The training gives these Marines a chance to see how the missile acts while it is going down range.”
The live-fire exercise gives the Marines a chance to see what they are capable of in a combat situation.
“This training’s purpose is to verify all the Marine’s training up to this point,” Brown, said. “It shows the Marine that what he does training pays off in the live fire.”