Photo Information

Marines from 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, wait in a trench during a simulated mortar attack during their final exercise of Mojave Viper Oct. 31.

Photo by Sgt. Robert L. Fisher III

2/7 Fox readies their ‘boots’ for Iraq

2 Nov 2006 | Sgt. Robert L. Fisher III

Marines and sailors in the line of fire face a hostile enemy every day. Improvised explosive devices, snipers and suicide bombers are a common threat to American military members in today’s war zones.With an abundance of new Marines, some may think Company F, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, could be seriously unprepared for the dangers they will see in Iraq, but the 2/7 Marines and sailors think differently."The guys are so well trained," said Company F executive officer Lt. John T. Meixner, as the company neared the end of Mojave Viper recently. "It’s a good feeling finishing up this training."The company finished the month-long exercise Nov. 2. It tested their team skills, as well as the individual Marines’ abilities and decisiveness."It’s pretty robust training, with an emphasis on the individual Marines and their unity of thought and action," said the Nooksack, Va., native. "It’s building the Pfc’s ability to make decisions in a complicated environment. It’s building a system of judgment."With 70 percent of Company F having never deployed, many of its platoons dealt with training new Marines, along with the difficulties of Mojave Viper.Only four Marines have deployed twice out of Cpl. Sam Tumanuvao’s platoon. Most of them have never deployed at all."A lot of guys who are in my platoon are brand new," said Tumanuvao, a 2/7 assaultman. "It made me worry at first, but we’re on our boys all the time. I just want to train them. They still need a lot of work, but I’m pretty comfortable with them right now. They’ve learned a lot already, I can tell."The company’s training emphasizes many aspects of desert and urban combat environments. And the Marines and sailors find out quickly when they make mistakes. Several times Marines were turned into simulated casualties for the rest of the platoon to deal with."They’re having fun with it, but they’re learning," said Lance Cpl. Brandon Forrester, a 2/7 mortarman from East St. Louis, Ill."If they get the little card that tells them they got their arm blown off, then their like ‘Man, I really messed up on that one.’ It teaches them a lesson,” he said.Even the training for corpsman was in depth. Lt. Mark Lund, 2/7’s medical officer, trained corpsman to handle emergency medical situations in a combat zone."There are corpsman Coyotes out here," said Seaman Bryan Benkert, a 2/7 corpsman from Kansas City, about the Marines from Tactical Training Exercise Control Group who conduct Mojave Viper. "We respond to medical evacuations. So there’s good training for the corpsman, like the mass casualty house."Regardless of the difficulty of the training, they enjoyed returning to the field and preparing for Iraq."It felt good to go back out and do something," said Lance Cpl. Benjamin Kunst, a 2/7 rifleman from Chicago. "I enjoy my mission."Now they return for a block of leave and the Marine Corps Birthday Ball before shipping out to Iraq."I can’t wait to go back to Iraq," said Lance Cpl. Scott Huse, a 2/7 rifleman from Pendleton, Ind. "We’re freeing their country from oppression … we’re saving thousands in the future."The new Marines and sailors of 2/7 enjoyed Mojave Viper and learned a lot from each other. It built a foundation of trust in their leaders and in their training. The senior Marines said the company will be ready when they land in Iraq.
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