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!!
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.
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.
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.
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!!!
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.
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!!!