Alex Sanchez http://upfromnothing.com 3m 409
The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
My first experience that began to push me into the possibly not re-enlisting category occurred at Marine Combat Training (MCT). This was a follow up course to Boot Camp in which non-combat arms Marines learned how to be basic riflemen. It was easily one of the most exciting things that I have ever done in my life. There is nothing like getting paid to shoot guns and blow things up. Hoorah!
The proverbial piece de resistance to the buffet of fire and destruction was supposed to be the Mark 19: an automatic 40 mm grenade launcher. Some Marines may disagree and say that it was the 50 cal. All manly and/or womanly ammunition arguments set aside, notice that I stated supposed to, not was. That is because on my big day the Mark 19 that I was supposed to fire, decided that it wasn’t going to work. The only thing it has to do is reign down fire and destruction and it decided to take the day off!
So as I stared at this now jammed piece of machinery, I did what came naturally to any PFC: I did the exact same thing as before expecting a different result. I pressed the trigger again and again only to alarm the living daylights out of the trainer who was assigned to watch over me. The Mark 19 had jammed and I was doing the one thing that you are not supposed to do. Apparently, I was not listening when they explained the clearing procedure and I had single-handedly stopped the entire firing exercise.
As my fellow Marine PFC’s looked on in a mixture of curiosity and anger, I felt my heart sink. The situation was far from over, as by this time the trainer called up the lowest ranking range personnel there. So as I proceeded to amble away with the trainer. I now had the distinct pleasure of having to worry about some kid who was my age was going to lose his life clearing this jammed and possibly primed grenade from the launcher. Thankfully, he was able to clear the round safely, but the guilt of putting him in that position remained with me for a long-time after.
Lance Corporal Up!
Alex Sanchez is a veteran of the US Marines. He is also a teacher and coach, who enjoys writing and working on his website. You can read more of his work over at: http://upfromnothing.com