Wednesday, January 14, 2015

So You Want To Be A Marine???

Who thought I would ever go to a Marine Base and engage in some of their training exercises??  NOT me ... that's for sure!!  This Golden Spike Group however, is out for adventure, which is right up my alley!!   Yesterday, we got a taste of what it's like to be an 18 year old kid again!!

This is the entrance to the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Live Fire Center, the largest in the world.  I thought this might be a rather boring tour, but believe me, it was anything but!!  Our tour guide Mike met us at the gate, ran all of our drivers licenses through four different criminal data bases to be sure we weren't terrorists, loaded us on a bus and took us on the trip of a lifetime!!
One of the first sites is this huge water tank, painted "pretty" as Mike says.  The water you see behind is the sewer treatment plant.  Reclaimed water is used to "green up" the on-site golf course.
Although they have an airstrip, it isn't long enough to land much of anything.  They don't have planes here, but that doesn't mean someone ELSE can't land.  A small jet landed, probably with a Colonel something-or-other.  This helicopter is the ONLY helicopter and it belongs to the hospital, which apparently isn't big enough to support wounded vets or pregnant wives.  Hmmm, must have been designed by a "man"!!  Hopefully they will be able to enlarge the hospital in the future.
What they do here, is train Marines how to fight and how to survive.  Our first stop was this rollover simulator.  At 17 degrees, your vehicle will roll over in a flash.  With full combat equipment, you have to quickly figure who goes out the tiny door first, without leaving any of your gear.  We failed the test!!
This is what the inside looks like, as each of us strapped ourselves in to the Disneyland E Ticket ride with a four point harness!!  YIKES!!
The driver gets a different view ... he rolls on his side in this rig.
All locked in ... they can see our screaming faces on the video outside.
Don't turn your computer ... this is me looking directly down at Ken and Sandy Carnes, the crew below, with a death grip on my camera, trying not to throw up on anyone!!
Three seconds later, I was on my back with these guys directly over ME!!  Look ma ... no hands!!!
These two lengthy trailers are ODS ... operator driving simulators.  You can get a real good idea of what it's like to drive any of the vehicles in Iraq and Afghanistan in sand, snow, ice or any other conditions.  
With a 180 degree simulator screen, some Marines have even learned to drive for the first time in these rigs.  That's scary!!!  From here, they move to the real thing so they aren't total greenhorns.
Here's the rack of dashboards for every vehicle they have.  Plug in the dashboard, attach the steering wheel and you could be driving just about anything!!  You KNOW I would have jumped at the chance to check this out, but the entire system was shut down for the day.

Next up was the combat simulator!!  Little did I know what was going to happen!!  We met in the review room to go over our objective and check out the map, committing it to memory ... a real challenge for us old folks!!  This too, we failed!!  We were told what to shoot and what NOT to shoot.  Don't kill the farmers, goats or children!!
As we entered the room, he forgot to mention that each group would be part of our convoy, consequently, we thought we were totally on our own!!  This is a Humvee with a machine gun nest on top.  Forgive me if I name things incorrectly ... this was a VERY short introduction before we were handed M4's and M16's.  The driver jumped in and we were about to take off, when he mentioned the machine gun up top.  I jumped in the rig before anyone even had a chance to raise their hand.  I crawled over the seats and skinnied up top as he showed me how to load and rack the ammunition.  Now THIS is what I'm talking about!!!!

The 360 degree screens gave us a view of the countryside as we cruised out of the compound in the lead.  I'm responsible for protecting the front of the convoy and I'm ready to shoot at ANYTHING that moves!!  But being the good Marine I am, I listened to my Commander Mike and only shot the two big trucks trying to ram us.  YES!!!  GOT EM!!!  Well maybe a couple of other bad guys, but mostly I watched for the big stuff while the rest of the crew on the ground around our vehicle shot at the bad guys with rifles.  THIS is a kick in the pants!!!
We followed our Commander's orders, made a wrong turn and came into town from the wrong direction, wreaking havoc and destruction along the way.  Okay, not exactly ... since we were going the wrong direction, we missed all the bad guys.  We turned around to head back out of town as our trusted Commander told us to shoot everyone!!  We promptly got bombed by the guys running the computer system in the back room, watching our every move, who can kill us off at any moment!!  Darn ... I could have played this game for several hours!!!

Once done, we went back to the briefing room to view the simulation.  Our Humee is the first on the left, ready to head out the gate.
Here's where I killed the first truck.  I added a second notch to my belt when I blew up the second truck.  THIS IS FUN!!!  Let's do it again!!!
This screen shows us coming through town, just before we got blown to bits!!  All those nintendo war games I used to play came in handy!!  Who knew??  

Actually, this really is a serious part of Marine training.  They spend hours and hours in this room.  From here, they will move to real vehicles out in the desert, which you will see on tomorrow's blog, in order to learn how to spot danger and how to survive when on deployment.
With that adventure under our belt, we went to the NCO Club for lunch.  The food was inexpensive and delicious!!
For most people, that would be an entire day of adventure.  For THIS group, it was only the first half.  Due to the extensive number of images, I'll finish the second half of our adventure tomorrow!!  Now where are those computer games ... I need more practice!!!

1 comment: