Marines fire LAV-mounted mortars

by Lance Cpl. Cedric R. Haller II
Okinawa Marine Staff

CENTRAL TRAINING AREA, Okinawa — Marines with Light Armored Reconnaissance Company conducted mortar training with light armored vehicles Feb. 11 at the Central Training Area near Camp Hansen.

“This training was conducted to provide familiarization and sustainment with firing mortars mounted on an light armored vehicle,” said Staff Sgt. Mark A. Contreraz, an infantry unit leader, currently assigned to LAR Company, Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, under the unit deployment program. “It ensures my Marines keep their skills tight and intact, and that everyone in their teams are thoroughly learning their jobs.”

The training gave the Marines the unique opportunity to experience firing mortars attached to an LAV in subtropical climate.
“What’s so unique about firing LAV-mounted mortars is that they’re a lot more mobile than a ground-mounted mortar,” said Cpl. Jon M. Boese, a mortarman with LAR Co. “It allows us to move into position, fire rounds downrange, and reposition faster than with a ground-mounted mortar system.”

Unlike other weapons systems, launching a mortar round accurately at a target is a complicated task that involves multiple Marines to accomplish.

“There are three billets in a mortar team: gunner, assistant gunner and ammunition man,” said Lance Cpl. Cullen L. O’Brien, an LAV crewman with the unit. “The (ammunition man) prepares the round, gives it to the (assistant gunner) while the gunner receives data from the fire direction controller and makes the proper adjustments, and then they await the command to fire.”

LAV-mounted mortars are an asset to the ground combat element, so it is important that Marines practice these skills so they can provide support and not injure themselves or other Marines in the process, according to Boese.

The Marines understand what it means to be safe and are committed to being proficient in their jobs.

“Handling and safety is paramount,” said Pfc. Jeremiah L. Dagit, a mortarman with LAR Co. “You’re holding a 10-pound (explosive) in your hand. If it were to unintentionally explode, Marines would get hurt.”

In addition to the precious live-fire training, the Marines strengthened their teamwork.

“I enjoy the camaraderie and the adrenaline rush you get from shooting rounds,” said Boese. “I enjoy the science behind it and helping out any other Marines that may need it.”

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