Fort McCoy News July 11, 2014

Marine unit returns to McCoy for 2nd year

STORY & PHOTOS BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

Nearly 600 Marines from the 3rd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment (3rd, 23rd) of Saint Louis, Mo., completed annual training at Fort McCoy for a second consecutive year.

Photo for Marines article
Marine Cpl. Jake Hime and Lance Cpl. Ryan James, both armorers from the 3rd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment of Saint Louis, Mo., assemble an M-240 machine gun at Forward Operating Base Freedom in Fort McCoy's South Post.

In 2013, the Marine Corps Reserve unit trained nearly 1,000 Marines on the installation in squad-level tactics. After a "great experience" last year, the unit returned to Fort McCoy this year to practice platoon-level tactics, said Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Shayne McGinty.

"The training was outstanding," McGinty said of the 2014 training. "Fort McCoy has afforded us all the opportunities to train as an infantry battalion. The post has the ranges we need and the support personnel have been great."

The Marines set up operations at Forward Operating Base Freedom on Fort McCoy's South Post. From there unit members set out to different areas of the installation to complete classroom instruction, marksmanship training, supported and unsupported squad- and platoon live-fire and maneuver training, and crew-served weapons training.

"Our culminating event was a platoon-supported, live-fire maneuver at Range 29," McGinty said. "Everyone did very well in the maneuver."

McGinty said all of the training reflected a theme — "Professionalism, Proficiency and Progress: A Warrior's Way of Life."

"The goal is to become more professional at our skills while at the same time bolstering our ethos and esprit de corps," McGinty said.

Photos for Marines article
Marines participate in a training session for updating a communications database.

The unit also has companies from Springfield, Mo., Smyrna, Tenn., and Montgomery, Ala. A fifth company from Little Rock, Ark., was training overseas this year and was unable to participate in the Fort McCoy training.

"We are fairly spread out," McGinty said. "However, it's good to have them all here with us to complete this training where we can be one battalion-sized group."

Cpl. Jake Hime, a headquarters and service company Marine who served as the lead for the battalion armory section on its deployment to Fort McCoy, said he stayed busy helping Marines have weapons ready and available for training.

"If we want to have successful training, we have to have operational weapons," Hime said.

"For all the different training we had taking place here (at Fort McCoy), we stayed busy. That also meant being out at the ranges to ensure someone was there to fix any broken weapons."

Hime also said he was impressed with spaces available at Fort McCoy. "I enjoy it here — the range facilities here are just incredible," he said.

For Lance Cpl. Ryan James, a headquarters and service company armorer, getting more "in-the-field" practice with weapons maintenance and through working with Fort McCoy range personnel, has helped him build more experience.

"Everyone on post has provided us with whatever we needed whenever we asked for it," James said. "I also like being involved in the maintenance of weapons, so everything we've done here has been rewarding. It's been good training for me."

Pfc. Rick Porter, a weapons company anti-tank missileman, participated in his first annual training exercise. Porter has been a Marine for just over a year and believes his time at Fort McCoy will prove to be a good foundation for future experiences.

"Prior to coming here, my only experience with military ranges was in basic training and in technical training," Porter said.
"Fort McCoy has some really nice ranges which made training on them a better experience."

On the overall annual training experience, Porter said it made him even more proud to be a Marine. "It's a different atmosphere here for sure — it definitely gives me more pride," he said.

McGinty said with another good training experience at Fort McCoy, the battalion could possibly return in 2015.

The 3rd, 23rd falls under the command of the 4th Marine Division. Historically, the unit was activated on July 22, 1942, and has had a part in every major U.S. military operation since World War II.