Full-Time Carpenter, Part-Time Gunner
Private First Class Ben McLaughlin, G Co., 141st BSB, 41st IBCT, adjusts rounds into the feedtray of his .50 cal. machine gun during gunnery training at Fort Stewart, May 20.

<b> FORT STEWART, Ga. </b> - Ben McLaughlin is a carpenter from Salem, Ore., but this year he will be operating a .50 caliber machine gun from the turret seat. Private First Class McLaughlin is with Company G, 141st Brigade Support Battalion, 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team from the Oregon National Guard.

Private First Class McLaughlin is like many of the Soldiers from the 41st IBCT who are relying on high-quality training to ensure they will be ready for full-time operations in Iraq.

During the live-fire HUMVEE training course here, Soldiers go through the "crawl, walk, run" philosophy as they learn how to communicate and effectively engage targets.

On May 20, G Co. went through the seventh part of a 12-part training exercise where they fired live rounds to simulate an actual engagement. Captain Alexander Herren of Company B, 1st Battalion, 306th Infantry Regiment, said that on a good day, the range can accommodate the firing of more than 3,000 rounds giving the Soldiers the training they need to be ready for combat.

"The training gives the gunner a realistic feel of firing from an unstable platform while they are moving," said Capt. Herren.

According to G Co. 1st Sgt. Jared Morgan, "It's all about communication and the 'three D's': distance, direction, and description." Each target is mounted and the gun crew must communicate where the target is, how far away it is, and what it is.

Private First Class McLaughlin said he was very happy with the training.

"It was well instructed, and we learned the importance of pre- combat checks, pre- combat inspections, and communication," he said.

Sergeant First Class Terrance Busky, of B Co., 1/306 Inf. Regt., one of the trainers on the lane, said he could tell the Oregon Soldiers were motivated, because he sometimes sees people who come out and just try to get through the lane.

"These guys are actually here to do their job - to get it done," he said.

Being a gunner might not be the normal day job for Soldiers like Ben McLaughlin, but these Guard members will be well-trained when they go to Iraq, thanks in part to the training they are getting at Fort Stewart.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16