Photo Information

Gunnery Sgt. Jeffery Benkie, scout sniper platoon sergeant, drops a target off the stern of the USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7) as part of a training exercise Sept. 6, 2008. Eight Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit's sniper platoon practiced shooting floating targets, which represented small water craft. The Marines held the exercise to hone the shooters' ability to provide security for the ship during transit through heightened security areas.

Photo by Cpl. Jason D. Mills

Training at sea: As the 26th MEU continues deployment, Marines, sailors begin to feel more at home

7 Sep 2008 | Cpl. Jason D. Mills

After nearly two weeks aboard the Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group, the Marines and sailors of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit have begun settling in and preparing for the long haul.

In order to stay gainfully employed, many units have begun various training exercises, including the MEU’s scout sniper platoon, which recently practiced shooting floating targets off the stern of the ship, Sept. 6, 2008.

Eight snipers practiced on moving targets, which represented small water craft, said Gunnery Sgt. Jeffery Benkie, the scout sniper platoon sergeant.  The exercise was held to hone the shooters' ability to provide security for the ship during transit through heightened security areas.

 “Never on land can we get the chance to train [like] this, shooting from a moving ship at moving targets [is a] very unique opportunity that can only be done from a Navy ship,” he said. He went on to say that the training was “just one more way that the scout sniper can [be] utilized as a weapon of force.”

The MEU, which is currently deployed in support of the Global War on Terror, has been at sea for more than two weeks now and the ships have already received their first resupply at sea, which brought mail, food and other essential items.

While deployed many of the MEU’s Leathernecks have found various ways of keeping themselves active; from staying fresh on the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program to honing their skills at killing aliens while playing video games, each Marine has found their own way of making ship life feel more like home.

“The pictures,” Cpl. Kristina First explained. “I posted them up on my wall in my rack.” The radio operator with the Command Element continued, “They make me think of my family and all the good times we’ve had. They remind me that this is all temporary and I’ll be home to see them again.”

The 26th MEU is currently deployed aboard Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group in support of the Global War on Terror. For more information please visit us at www.26meu.usmc.mil.