Combat Engineer Marines Take on Live-Fire Explosives Training

Story by Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Austin Long, 2nd Marine Division
Edited by Erin Wittkop, Defense Media Activity

Marines and their instructor brace against the blast of a door charge at Engineer Training Area 3 on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Jan. 10, 2013. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Austin Long

Marines and their instructor brace against the blast of a door charge at Engineer Training Area 3 on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Jan. 10, 2013. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Austin Long

A line of eight Marines sprint towards a house with closed doors and windows, one carries explosives and the others carry various tools used to gain entrance into a building. One holds the blast blanket, a flexible shield used by Marines to protect them from the initial blast and flying debris, others provide security, and two Marines plant the explosives on the door. After an instructor checks the placement and safety of everyone, he hands over control to the lead man in the group yelling out, “Breacher, you have control!”

Immediately, a Marine replies, “Roger, I have control! Stand by, five, four, three, two, one!” With an ear-shattering roar, the door and windows erupt into a shower of debris and dirt, which rained down onto the Marines waiting to rush the building.

January 10 was the day Marines waited for. After three days of classes and one day of rehearsals, junior Marines were able to get hands-on training with live explosives at Engineer Training Area 3 on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. The engineers work diligently in preparation to support infantry units for future deployments.

“The combat engineers could be doing this in country, so I felt it was important for them to get the training,” said Sgt. Richard Hill, acting platoon sergeant with 2nd Combat Engineering Battalion. “The training went well. These guys put in a lot of class time and rehearsal time. They learned the materials and were able to put that knowledge to work.”

Marines started with the basics: manufactured explosives, expedient explosives, and urban breaching.

The main focus for Marines after getting down all the basics was learning how to use what’s around them for explosive charges, said Cpl. Rollie Lemons, a sapper instructor with 2nd CEB.

“These Marines get out what they put in,” said Lemons “We’re here to teach and provide safety and guidelines. Your own imagination is your own limitation.”

The expedient portion of the range consisted of makeshift explosives made from material that could be found in a combat environment. Once the Marines mastered the expedient explosives skills, they moved on the urban breaching portion where they learned the basics for blasting an entrance through doors, windows and walls.

“Training today went well for all areas of training,” said 1st Lt. Patrick Mayne, the officer in charge of ETA-3 with 2nd CEB. “These Marines have been training all week, starting with classes, rehearsals and then today with the live fire.”

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