My rifle, without me, is useless. Without my rifle, I am useless. The rifleman’s creed is not at all a stranger to Marines and with yearly qualifications the retention of marksmanship skills is upheld within our Corps; but what happens to rifles when not in use?
Inside Fightertown’s armory are Marines who ensure and hold accountability for most firearms aboard the Air Station including but not limited to M-249s, M-240s, M-16s and M-9s.
"One of the worst sounds a Marine can hear is a click as they try to fire their weapon," said Sgt. George Woodley, VMFA-312 small-arms repair technician. "It is our responsibility to make sure the weapons we distribute are reliable whether the Marine is going to the [rifle range] or deploying."
Preventative Maintenance Checks and Services are performed at the armory to ensure firearms are rust free and mechanical items function properly. Checks can be required to be done daily, weekly or even yearly depending on the part.
Aside from required PMCSs, the documentation of weapons issued to Marines are kept and updated. The small-arms repair technicians also prepare rosters for ranges using the retained records.
"When we are issuing weapons for ranges one of the most important things Marines tend to forget is safety while passing weapons through our window," said Woodley. "For our safety and the Marines safety it is important the weapon is on safe, the bolt is locked to the rear and butt stocks are inserted first when returning rifles."
Personal firearms can also be stored at the stations armory, which is not required but is available to all Marines who live in town or on base. However, Marines who live in the barracks are required to store their weapons in the armory.
"Just because we are not Marines of an ‘03’ field does not mean we shouldn’t have weapons or be familiar with the weapons we use in the Marine Corps," said Staff Sgt. Steve Bancroft, Headquarters and Headquarters Support Squadron armory chief and native of St. Johns, Mich.
Article by Lance Cpl. John Wilkes, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort