12th Marines get feel for M-203 grenade launcher
Lance Cpl. Scott M. Biscuiti
CENTRAL TRAINING AREA, Okinawa (May 26, 2006) -- Thump, thump, thump, echoed across the firing line as more than 60 Marines and sailors fired 40 mm grenades at targets marked for destruction May 16 at Range 7 in Central Training Area.
The training evolution was aimed at providing Headquarters Battery, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, with familiarization of the M-203 40 mm grenade launcher, according to Chief Warrant Officer 3 James Brookshire, commanding officer, Headquarters Battery, 12th Marines.
"These Marines might find themselves using this weapon in a combat environment," Brookshire said. "They put live rounds down range, and now I know they can employ it properly."
Brookshire said the idea for the M-203 live fire came during a trip to the armory where he discovered M-203's that were not yet mounted on rifles.
"We have these weapons that most of our Marines haven't shot, so I said we need to go out and blow stuff up and approve these weapons," he said. "The M-203 is an individual weapon and it's in every Marine unit. It's important to know how to use it."
The Marines fired two kinds of rounds. They used M-781 40 mm practice rounds and M-433 High Explosive Dual Purpose 40 mm grenades.
"We used the practice rounds to get our bearing with the weapon and get on target," said Lance Cpl. Ryan Wright, a field artillery fire control man with Headquarters Battery. "Then we used the HEDP rounds. I'm a big fan of blowing stuff up. I loved it."
Marines in combat military occupational specialties constantly use weapons like the M-203, according to Brookshire. However, headquarters elements rarely get the opportunity to get out and train with many weapons systems.
"You have to find the balance of combat readiness and providing regimental command ability like controlling (communications), (motor transportation) and radar, which are just a few things this unit does," Brookshire said. "It was good training."
For most of the Marines in the unit, the training evolution was the first time any of them fired live M-203 rounds.
"I've never fired (HEDP) rounds before this. But if I had to use the M-203 in combat, I would be comfortable with it," said Lance Cpl. Benjamin Griswold, an artillery meteorological man with Headquarters Battery. "The most important part is learning to use (the weapon) effectively to save Marines lives."