The Marines - a military tradition now 233 years in the making. The men and women of the United States Marine Corps take time out of their lives to serve on battlefields across the globe and during training exercises stateside.
"Keep your eyes up. Keep your ears open. Let's get on the buses and get out on the field where we belong to get the training going," commanded, 1st Sgt. Aaron McDonald of the 6th Motor Transport Battalion based in Lubbock.
Marines as young as 18 years old train to use weapons like the Browning M2 .50 caliber machine gun. It's the largest machine gun in the US arsenal weighing in at 128 pounds. "The fifty cal is probably my favorite thing about being a Marine," said Marine LCpl. Morgan Smith.
This favorite weapon of any Marine can successfully hit and take out a target at two kilometers. However it's not just guns on the battlefield for which these Marines are training. There is a far more dangerous weapon in use every day, targeting Marines and other U.S. military personnel on the front lines of battle. It's the improvised explosive device, or I.E.D.
I.E.D.'s, used by insurgents in the Middle East, are the number one killer of U.S. military personnel overseas. So to traing, they do so in a blackout, using only night vision video. Marines train with N.V.G's, or night vision goggles, because they train in blackness.
"It's as close as possible, the training we get because tonight we'll see and hear the boom and the flash of when you actually hit an I.E.D," said Staff Sgt. Jesse Rodriguez. Real explosives are used to simulate what an I.E.D blast might be like at night, giving Marines on the job training in handling the stress of the battlefield.
One tool saving Marine lives weighs in at 14,000 pounds. It's the Oshkosh seven ton truck. This truck is the main transport for Marines but its customizable and can be armored, used as a tow truck, and used as a weapons position for the Browning .50 caliber machine gun.
On the firing range no precaution is left undone to assure all Marines are safe. But at the end of the day, training aside, the Marines are men and women so proud of their country they choose to serve. They choose to be a Marine.
"What does it mean for you to be a Marine?" asked NewsChannel 11. "Oh it's great. I love it. Just, the prestige, what I like about it most is just the confidence," said Cpl. Blake Pitts.
"It's a lot easier for me than my family. It's a job. It's something that we do and we don't do it because we don't love it. It's a lot easier for me than my family," added LCpl. Smith.
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