MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Weapons Training Battalion, Marine Corps Installations East – Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune received a new commanding officer during a change of command at Stone Bay, June 15. Lt. Col. Ivan I. Monclova relinquished command of WTBN to Lt. Col. Carlos A. Vallejo in the bright, morning ceremony.
“As the installation’s commanding general, a priority is to support the operating forces and to support the warfighter,” said Brig. Gen. Thomas A. Gorry. “No command we have does this more directly than Weapons Training Battalion.”
The command was initially activated in January 1943 as Rifle Range Detachment, to provide marksmanship training for Marines during World War II. It was deactivated shortly after WWII ended and was inoperable until April 1950. It was not until 1996 the unit was redesignated as Weapons Training Battalion.
Presently, WTBN trains more than 26,000 Marines annually for their pistol and rifle marksmanship qualifications. It also hosts various competitions including the Marine Corps shooting matches.
“The bottom line is every Marine is a rifleman, so marksmanship and marksmanship training is paramount to our job in defending the United States,” said Gorry. “The commander not only supports me, but the Marines, and Lt. Col. Monclova has done an absolutely superb job in terms of his leadership and his awesome sense of responsibility.”
Monclova took command, June 1, 2010, and since helped distribute 200 million dollars for construction and renovations of facilities aboard the training area.
“It’s a great place to be, and it was a great tour,” said Monclova. “But any commander in this spot knows we are only standing here because we have a lot of support and help from within and without the unit.”
Monclova thanked many of the units that support the battalion in ensuring the unit provides the best training possible.
“You look at (the Marines in formation) and they don’t look like a lot of Marines, but what you don’t see is the 800 to 900 Marines we have out here a week. You don’t see the Marines who cut the grass, and build hundreds of targets a week. It’s like a factory out here. It never stops.”
Oncoming commander, Lt. Col. Carlos A. Vallejo, however, is up for the challenge.
“Over the past week I’ve seen how a compressed shooting schedule really puts a lot of stress on the Marines, and they really do an excellent job,” said Vallejo. “I’m extremely honored and humbled I’ve been selected to command this battalion. I know leading this command is a huge privilege. I look forward to serving with (all the Marines).”