Friday, February 21, 2014

Every Marine a Rifleman

"Every Marine is, first and foremost, a rifleman. All other conditions are secondary."
29th Commandant of the USMC

Every Marine is trained to take up the rifle, but that is not the only weapon carried by corpsmen. They are trained on many weapons from handheld to those mounted on vehicles and more. Missions that involve urban room-clearing techniques require different weapons than those involving long-distance marksmanship.

"The basic infantry weapon of the USMC is the M16 assault rifle family, with a majority of Marines being equipped with the M16A4 service rifle, or more recently the M4 carbine - a compact variant. Suppressive fire is provided by the M249 SAW, which is being replaced by the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle, and the M240G machine gun, at the squad and company levels respectively. in addition, indirect fire is provided by the M203 grenade launcher in fireteams, M224 60 mm mortar in companies, and M252 81 mm mortar in battalions. The M2.50 caliber heavy machine gun and MK19 automatic grenade launcher (40 mm) are available for use by dismounted infantry, though they are more commonly vehicle-mounted. Precision fire is provided by the M39 Enhanced Marksman Rifle, which is being replaced by the M110 semi-Automatic Sniper system and M40A3 and A5 sniper rifle bolt action sniper rifle." Wikipedia

From the very beginning of their training, Marine recruits are instilled as partners to their weapons.

A Marine is first introduced to the rifle in recruit training. From the moment they place their hands on it, their drill instructors stress the importance of understanding the rifle by explaining the different parts, conditions and safety rules of the weapon.
The responsibility of maintaining a weapon can be overwhelming for some recruits. For many of them, it’s the first time that they’ve actually held and fired a rifle.
“Since it was my first time using a rifle, I was intimidated,” said Recruit Alec Kunesh, Platoon 3214, Company I, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion. “But the more I handle it, the more comfortable I am.”
Two weeks of recruit training are dedicated to teaching recruits the basics of marksmanship.
The first week, known as “Grass Week”, includes classes on trigger control, sight alignment, and breathing, which are the fundamentals of marksmanship. It also covers the different positions the recruits will be shooting in: sitting, kneeling and standing. They practice these positions for several hours a day to learn what works best for them and provide a stable position.
Week two is “Firing Week”, which is where recruits can apply what they’ve learned. Basic marksmanship-trained coaches assist them as they go through the course of fire that they will shoot on qualification day. It’s up to the recruit to apply the fundamentals in order to be successful, said Terry.
While at the range, drill instructors focus on maintenance and continue to instill weapons safety rules.Training and Education Command

"The Rifleman's Creed:  This is my rifle.  There are many like it, but this one is mine.  It is my life.  I must master it as I must master my life. Without me my rifle is useless.  Without my rifle, I am useless.  I must fire my rifle true.  I must shoot straighter than the enemy who is trying to kill me.  I must shoot him before he shoots me.  I will.  My rifle and I know that what counts in war is not the rounds we fire, the noise of our burst, or the smoke we make.  We know that it is the hits that count.  We will hit.

My rifle is human, even as I am human, because it is my life.  Thus, I will learn it as a brother.  I will learn its weaknesses, its strengths, its parts, its accessories, its sights and its barrel.  I will keep my rifle clean and ready, even as I am clean and ready.  We will become part of each other.
Before God I swear this creed.  My rifle and I are the defenders of my country.  We are the masters of our enemy.  We are the saviors of my life.
So be it, until victory is America's and there is no enemy."

This is not glorious, or beautiful. I did not choose this for my child, but he chose it for himself and I raised him as a hero -  I had no intent that my knight would take up such sword and armor, but can I allow myself to really be surprised? What choice do we really have in what we become? What weapons do we have to guard our hearts from who we really are?

I could not take up opposition against the structure that makes my child a Marine. I cannot stop those children from becoming warriors or the government from creating a warrior culture to give them homes for their needy bodies. It is human nature to need heroes and human nature to take up arms to protect our families. It is human nature to take lives and survive - or not.


  1. Your words are brilliantly painful. I love your willingness to at once be at Peace with your son's choices as well as with the reality of how much those choices are in conflict with your dream of how the world could be...should be...but isn't.


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