USS BONHOMME RICHARD, At sea –
For Cpl. Derrick Gary, a massive, rocking amphibious assault ship in the middle of the ocean with a cool breeze blowing onto to its flight deck is not the normal setting for a shooting exercise.
U.S. Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 31 executed a live-fire shooting exercise Feb. 4 on the flight deck of the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) in the seas around Okinawa, Japan.
Marines typically shoot on land, but working in the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, CLB-31’s parent command, Gary and his fellow Marines experienced the challenges of shooting aboard ship.
“It’s a little more difficult shooting on the ship because you have to account for the rocking and you have to maintain your balance,” said Gary, a field radio operator from Landover, Maryland. “All the other moving parts of the ship can be distracting, so sometimes it’s hard to focus on the target.”
Regardless of the training area, on land or aboard a ship during a deployment, Marines and sailors with the 31st MEU need to stay ready for anything.
“Shooting while on ship keeps us in that combat mindset, which is important because being with the MEU, we could get called for combat or humanitarian assistance,” said Gary. “Getting a chance to brush up on skills that some Marines haven’t practiced since being on the rifle range helps get us ready.”
For Cpl. Mayte Rincon, being a part of the 31st MEU means more than getting on a ship.
“We are the 31st MEU and we are always ready,” said Rincon, a landing support specialist with CLB-31, 31st MEU. “Shooting aboard the ship will get us ready if and when we are called out to go somewhere.”