FORT AP HILL, Va. -- Morning sunlight filtered through the trees while cold morning air caused leaves to rustle as the patrol quietly made its way through the dense woods. The Marines lightened their steps as they approached the observation post. The point man raised the sights of his rifle and a sudden crack broke the silence.
"Contact front!" yelled the rifleman. The Marines immediately dropped to the ground, returned fire and readied themselves for an aggressive assault.
"Fire teams, prepare to rush!" directed Cpl. George S. Jones of 1st Squad, 3d Platoon, India Company, 3d Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2d Marine Division.
This live-fire squad assault was just one element of training the "Fightin' Sixth Marines" conducted here recently.
With its ranks filled by fresh graduates of the School of Infantry, 3/6 deployed for indoctrination and preparation for future missions.
"By focusing primarily on the fire team and squad levels, we're integrating the new Marines...solidifying the small-unit techniques and capabilities crucial to our success." said Training Officer Capt. Daniel Q. Greenwood. "The range complex here supports an entire battalion conducting live fire simultaneously and allows us to develop a building-block approach to our preparation."
"This training is an extension of 'warrior spirit,' (an internal unit training program that functions to develop unit cohesion and development of the individual Marine)," explained "Fightin' I" Squad Leader Cpl. Chris M. Lazirko.
Corporals serve as instructors and provide guidance for the four-day evolution during which new-joins are issued rooms and gear, battle-sight zero their weapons, undergo nuclear biological chemical training, complete the Leader's React Course and the Obstacle Course and do a three-mile "combat run" with war gear, according to the Grove City, Ohio native.
"It's a real gut check...basically a continuation of SOI," said Automatic Rifleman Pfc. Felando L. Carmicheal. "They are teaching us to be leaders...to look out for our fellow Marines and helping to reinforce our skills in preparation for CAX(Combined Arms Exercise)," said the Montgomery, Ala., Marine.
"We give them a lot of respect because they are also our leaders," explained Rifleman Pfc. Jacobe C. Wells of Ogdensburg, N.Y.
After the holidays, they'll deploy to Twenty-nine Palms, Calif., Jan. 15 for Combined Arms Exercise 3-01 and then depart with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit in March, according to Greenwood.
"It's a busy and exciting schedule for our new Marines and the training could not be better for preparing them for possible contingencies," he said.
Memorial Service held for Marine Who Died in Training Incident at Fort A.P. Hill
A memorial service was held Dec.14 at the Protestant Chapel here for Cpl. Yevgeniy S. Kokleyev, a Marine from 3d Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, who died Monday of injuries received during this training.
Kokleyev, a 60mm mortarman assigned to I Company, was pronounced dead at the scene by medical authorities before 5 p.m. Monday. The 22-year-old Kokleyev of Richmond Heights, Ohio, was born in Gomel, Belorussia, and had recently served as a Russian translator for the II Marine Expeditionary Force.
The incident occurred when the Marines were conducting combined arms, live-fire training in preparation for their deployment to Twentynine Palms, Calif. The incident is under investigation.