Photo Information

Cpl. Timothy Zajac of Company G, 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, advances on his target while firing at Camp Atterbury, Ind., Aug. 10. Part of their regular rifle qualification includes turning, aiming, moving and firing on a close-range target, reinforcing combat marksmanship techniques. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tiffany Edwards)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Tiffany Edwards

Grunt life: 2/24 Marines overcome distance to stay ready on ranges

15 Aug 2013 | Lance Cpl. Tiffany Edwards

The air crackled with the hail of gunfire as Marines advanced on their targets as a part of their annual rifle qualification. As the cool, cloudy morning turned into a humid, bug-infested afternoon, infantry Marines from CompanyG, 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, practiced pivoting and aiming at targets, as well as advancing while firing. They also practiced immediate and remedial action drills, mimicking weapons failures and blockages, to practice the most efficient methods to continue a steady rate of fire.

“People often throw around the term ‘weekend warriors,’ but we, as a Reserve unit, do intense, dynamic ranges more often than the static qualification ranges,” said Capt. Shane Bartelt, the Co. G commanding officer. “We do difficult, dynamic training to challenge the Marines as much as possible. The training that we do at whatever available installation is no different from the training that the active-duty infantry does.”

He said their ability to conduct advanced training is credited to the Co. G Marines continuing their Marine Corps educations within their civilian lives and supplementing their training from drill weekends. The Reserve Marines still complete their required professional military education courses and maintain fitness standards, making time between their civilian lives and jobs. Bartelt added that because his Marines were staying prepared outside of drills, he and the Co. G Inspector-Instructor staff do their best to make sure they provide their Marines with up-to date training simulations and exercises.

Sgt. Philip Cichy, a Co. G platoon sergeant, said the role of responsible platoon sergeants, squad and team leaders is necessary in making sure Reserve Marines stay ready between drills. Accountable leadership can overcome the unique challenge that active-duty units do not face: living hundreds of miles apart. The company includes Marines from across the Midwest, including Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri and Minnesota.

“It’s part of the job description,” Cichy said. “You’re responsible for accountability as well as the professional development of your Marines. We have to do what we can through delegation, using squad leaders and team leaders, using e-mails and phone calls; anything we can do to make sure our Marines stay schooled up and trained.”

Lance Cpl. Cody Schroeder, a native of Eldridge, Iowa, said that his experience with Co. G helps he and his fellow Reserve Marines maintain a proactive approach to their training, both in the field and in their civilian lives.

 “We all recognize the importance of what we have to do,” Schroeder said. “It’s all pretty motivating for me and I have a blast doing it.”

The Co. G Marines practice infantry tactics every drill weekend and annual training.  Their exercises include trench clearing, maintaining cover in various types of terrain, as well as maintaining suppressive fire, intelligence collection, and the maintenance and operation of different weapons systems to keep their knowledge diverse.

“If we got called up to fight, I wouldn’t have any problem with the guys to the left and right of me, worrying if they were prepared,” Schroeder said.

Co. G, 2/24 is based in Madison, Wis., and trains throughout the year, including attending the Integrated Training Exercise 4-13 in Twentynine Palms, Calif.