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1/3 trains on amphibious assaults in AAV's

Marine Corps News

Release Date: 5/02/2004

Story by Lance Cpl. Michelle M. Dickson

MARINE CORPS TRAINING AREA BELLOWS, Hawaii(April 30, 2004) -- Amphibious assault vehicles manned by Lava Dogs from Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, splashed into the waters here, April 22, as part of a training package in preparation for their deployment with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.

During the exercise, the Marines in the AAVs simulated an exit from the well deck of a ship. They demonstrated they could exit the vessel in a timely manner -- no matter that the AAVs were charging through rough waters. The Alpha Co. Marines kept their weapons inverted and their helmets atop bobbing heads, despite what came their way. The troop commander, the senior Marine who was in charge of the deployment, maintained control of the entire unit.

With AAVs holding just the number of Marines to execute specific missions, the Lava Dogs prepared for the amphibious landing on nearby beaches.

"Being in the AAVs can get someone very claustrophobic because there are no windows inside," said Sgt. Victor O'Neal, AAV section leader for Combat Assault Company. "The diesel fuel can get someone nauseous, and the Marines need to be able to handle those situations to react and perform the way they need to when arriving on the beach."

Once out in the water a good distance, the AAVs turned around and came onto shore. This entry gave the Lava Dogs the opportunity to experience firsthand what they might encounter during real-world missions with the 31st MEU. Marines also asked plenty of questions, so they would have fewer when the time comes to execute.

"For a lot of us, it's the first time being able to experience something like this," said Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith Fichter, a machinegun team leader for Weapons Platoon, Alpha Company. "So many of the Marines here are new to the fleet, but everyone seems to be catching on really fast."

"The most difficult part of this particular training would be leaving the track and keeping up security tactics," said O'Neil. "We are reviewing a lot of information with the Marines, though, so they should be able to handle it very well. They work together as a group, and that's what they need to do in order to be successful with an exercise like this."

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