Loud but necessary training rocks Fort Bragg
Posted October 22, 2013
Updated October 23, 2013
Fort Bragg, N.C. — Training for war is a noisy endeavor, as those who live in the vicinity of Fort Bragg have learned time and again. Over the last couple of weeks, the artillery training exercises of about 1,500 Marines on post have rumbled across the landscape.
The 10th Marine Regiment – the only artillery regiment on the East Coast – has been coming to Fort Bragg twice a year for over 20 years. This training period began Oct. 9 and ends Oct. 25.
The Marines leave their home turf of Camp Lejeune for the more wide open space at Fort Bragg. Lejeune is too small for an entire regiment to do mass exercises with 155 millimeter howitzers and machine guns.
"There's also some restrictions for environmental reasons," said Col. Cliff Weinstein, commanding officer for the 10th Marine Regiment at Camp Lejeune.
They've got machines so powerful they can rattle a china cabinet two counties away, and full teams of Marines training to load, aim and fire them. Some can hit a target up to 4 miles away. Marines must know the terrain and the weather to prepare these weapons. It's serious business, but also a bit of fun.
"I get to shoot 100-pound projectiles way out there, and they explode on the other end. That's cool. I like it," said Sgt. Ryan Eaton. Artillery training rocks Fort Bragg neighbors
He is the section chief, in charge of an M777 howitzer, and he said he can't imagine doing anything else.
"Basically, I'm in charge of everything that goes on with that gun, all the gear on that gun and surrounding that gun," he said.
It's a feeling of great power and great pride.
Lance Corporal Jesus Mendoza, 19, joined the Marines just a year ago. He gets a thrill "just hearing that howitzer just fire, just hearing it fire and knowing that I put that round in there and it's going downrange," he said.
"It's the sound of freedom right there," said 1st Lt. Chad Greene.
That sound can be disruptive, even frightening, for the neighbors.
"It can get quite loud," Weinstein said. "It's a hardship for a lot of people. We try to keep things to a minimum, but we really appreciate the support that Fayetteville has always given the military."
Most of the artillery work is done during daylight hours.
Weinstein pointed out that the training is essential for Marines who could be called at any time to protect the nation.