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Ammo Supply Point shells out rounds

Marine Corps News

Release Date: 4/26/2004

Story by Cpl. Ryan Walker

CAMP SCHWAB, Okinawa, Japan (April 23, 2004) -- Nestled within the gates here is a small unit in charge of all the ammunition support for the 17,000 Marines and Sailors of the III Marine Expeditionary Force aboard Okinawa.

More than 100 Marines from Ammo Company, 3rd Materiel Readiness Battalion, 3rd Force Service Support Group, provide storage, accountability, receipt, and issue of all ammunition used for training home and abroad.

"What surprises a lot of people is that all the ammo that is at Camp Schwab is for all of Okinawa and all off-island training," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jessica N. Donnell, operations officer. "Everything that is shot, fired or thrown from the ground ranging from artillery rounds, 25 mm and demolitions is kept here."

Covering 179 acres, the area is called the Ammo Supply Point, and is tucked away from major infrastructures in the event of a possible ammunitions explosion.

"If we were to have an explosion here, we have to be away from people and buildings to minimize damages," Donnell said.

When Marines train in live-fire exercises or the annual rifle qualification, ammunition is always there, but what many may not know is what's involved in getting it there.

If a unit has training planned, they submit a request through their battalion supply and logistics section. The ammo request is then forwarded to the unit's major command and then sent to the ammo supply point here, Donnell explained.

"When the unit comes, we inspect their vehicle, check to make sure they're authorized to transport it, and then they take it to the range," Donnell said.

This is no simple task. With over 1,700 different types of ammunition available, ammo technicians must be thoroughly trained to handle the potential deadly ordinances. "All of our Marines are trained at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., where they learn basic identification, handling and storage, but the majority of the training they get is on the job," Donnell said. "They come here with about four weeks of training, and then throughout the year they're here, they really get to develop their skills in handling ammo."

With its many hazards, ordnance handling requires well-trained non-commissioned offers to instruct the new Marines.

A lot of things can be easily overlooked. If the job is done incorrectly, what many would think of as a simple mistake such as a round in a wrong stack could manifest itself into issuing the wrong ammo to a unit and getting someone killed, explained Cpl. Michael D. Everett, ammo technician.

To ensure the safety of personnel and the ordnance, the ammunition is kept in 44 reinforced concrete buildings called magazines that are buried within the ground with security posts monitoring them constantly.

Although the Marines are far away from the luxuries of the southern camps, many of them feel the environment here is worth the discomforts.

"It's nice being up here by ourselves. This place builds camaraderie and you get really close to the other Marines here," Everett said.

With all live-fire training dependent upon the Marines at the ASP, their mission is critical for success of the III MEF.

"If there wasn't ammo support, then there wouldn't be ammo to train for war," Donnell said.

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