MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP H.M. SMITH, Hawaii --
The destructive power of a machine gun, mortar or rifle by itself is nothing, but when manned by Marines in combat, it strikes terror into the heart of the enemy.
Armorers in the Marine Corps make sure that each one of these weapons, along with many other small-arms, are secured, maintained and accounted for, until Marines need to put them to use.
Armorers are responsible for every weapon in their charge – 100 percent accountability at all times.
“Most people don’t realize how much we do on a daily basis,” said Sgt. Clinton Rosemeyer, armory chief, Headquarters and Service Battalion, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific. “Between the multiple weapons counts, issuing weapons, maintenance and inspections after recovering weapons – we keep pretty busy.”
The battalion’s armory contains pistols, rifles, machine guns and mortars. Armorers must be able to inspect the weapons to determine if they have malfunctions, need repairs or meet serviceability standards, according to Marine Corps Order P1200.7.
In order to do that, armorers must be able to disassemble and assemble every weapon in their charge, and be able to assess the condition of each piece of the weapon.
To learn these vital skills, they attend their initial training at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Aberdeen, Md., after completing boot camp and combat training. They spend 45 days learning about small-arms weapons the Marine Corps uses.
Once armorers get to their duty station, their main function is issuing weapons and weapons gear to an entire battalion when Marines and Sailors perform required range training, deploy or come for monthly cleanings.
Providing weapons to Marines for range training sometimes requires them to go to work before 5 a.m. and stay as late as 5 p.m. until all of the weapons are recovered.
In between organizing and transporting weapons for ranges, they conduct in-house training daily.
“We conduct familiarization training all the time,” said Cpl. Anthony Davis, armory maintenance chief, HQSVCBN MARFORPAC. “It’s important that we maintain proficiency with our weapons.”
An armorer’s proficiency with fixing weapons can mean the difference between a Marine being able to send rounds down range effectively or having to deal with a malfunctioning weapon.
“Sometimes we work long hours, but I’m proud to be an armorer because it’s a huge responsibility,” said Davis, a Boston native. “We have to be inspection ready at all times.”
Every detail of every aspect of the armory must be recorded because armorers are held accountable for every weapon in the armory at all times.
“In our field you can never become complacent or skip a step,” said Rosemeyer, the Hillsboro, Ill. native. “It’s not like we can say, ‘well we already counted the weapons twice today, why do it again before we leave.’”
In combat or training, Marines can’t be Marines without a working rifle, and the armorer is there to make sure that happens.