Photo Information

26th Marine Expeditionary Unit Marines look out the back of an MV-22B Osprey during a flightover Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C., Aug. 10, 2011. 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit::r::::n::Marines established liaison with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 266 to get a betterunderstanding of the 26th MEU's future Aviation Combat Element's capabilities. (U.S. Marine::r::::n::Corps photo by Cpl. Christopher Stone)

Photo by Cpl. Christopher Stone

Armorer by day, night

12 Aug 2011 | Lance Cpl. Michael S. Lockett 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Fluorescent lit and windowless, the mid-sized room is lined with neatly organized shelves and shuttered racks full of rifle optics, weapons, mechanical components, and paperwork. It’s not cluttered; the smell of lubricant, ubiquitous cleaning gear and workbenches call to mind a well-ordered garage.

In the only corner not hemmed with shelves and lockers, a government-issued desk sits, industriously occupied by Lance Cpl. Glenn A. Lennen, the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit armory chief.

The Knoxville, Tenn. native smoothly transitions between handling phone calls and dealing with Marines, who come to draw weapons. Lean, slightly-above-average height and dark haired; in civilian clothes he could be easily mistaken for a college student.

His youthful appearance, which would usually fail to distinguish him, is a stark contrast to the competency highlighted in his position – usually held by a more senior Marine.

“I’ve always enjoyed working with guns; it’s my passion and hobby,” he said. Lennen, who hails from a family run-through with veterans, joined the Marine Corps as an armorer in 2008.

A competition shooter and hunter, Lennen personally owns enough firearms to fill a dozen gun safes, including an eye-opening variety of rifles, pistols, and shotguns. The self-proclaimed gun enthusiast’s eyes light up when talking about his treasure and the fact that he reloads his own ammunition.

Where as many have a home office that closely resembles that of work, Lennon’s homes both in Tennessee and locally resemble his workspace.

His home in Tennessee has a room given over solely to firearms, housing seven gun safes and two workbenches inside, with a further two workbenches in the garage.

A married man, his wife Jessica, shares his interest in firearms, and doesn’t mind their home resembling an armory with three additional rifle safes and two pistol safes. Lennen credits his father for instilling a love for weaponry at a young age.

He received his first firearm on his 12th birthday. The twelve-gauge shotgun was handed down through three generations of his family.

“My dad was the one who used to take me out shooting. He taught me the rules and safety features and purposes for having guns,” said Lennen. Ever since then, he’s acquired his current arsenal, receiving firearms for birthdays and Christmas.

It is this passion and drive that passes from just a hobby to a career in the Marine Corps.

To most, his job could be a daunting task. It includes accounting for all of the 26th MEU’s weapons systems, preparing weapons for use by Marines on the range, correcting mechanical errors in the weapons, maintaining the security of the armory, and assisting in the transfer of the equipment.

“He’s doing all these things that a lance corporal typically would not handle,” said Capt. Shayne P. Yenzer, 26th MEU logistics officer. “He’s the sole Marine who operates the armory, and oversees the care and maintenance of the commanding officer’s weapons.”

Honesty is an important attribute, especially for Lennen, a relatively junior Marine trusted with the small arms of the entire unit. It takes a person of certain character to shoulder the responsibility for the many thousands of dollars worth of gear.

Not only is Lennen’s job one of accountability, it is technically complex, and demands a comprehensive knowledge of the weapon systems that he’s working with.

“You have to be able to go to the cycle of operations, to be able to figure out what’s causing the weapon to do something,” said Lennen.

Trained in four out of five of the echelons of weapons maintenance, Lennen is qualified to all but completely rebuild a weapon with a mechanical fault.

Echelon one of weapons maintenance is the basic field cleaning that all Marines are expected to do. Echelon two is qualified by breaking the weapon down and conducting minor repairs, and can be performed using just the tools carried by Marines in the field, such as cleaning kits and lubricant.

Echelon three is the beginning of the intermediate maintenance phase, and requires more major repairs, such as swapping out barrels due to corrosion and pitting, and requires more specialized equipment to handle.

It’s here that Lennen’s schooling comes to the fore. Trained at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland, armorer’s school is a two-month education on the operation, cleaning, maintenance, and components of over a dozen weapon systems in the Marine Corp’s extensive array of small arms.

For damages to the weapon beyond echelon three, including deeper level malfunctions requiring extensive rebuilds outside the mechanical capability of the 26th MEU’s armory facilities, Lennen takes the weapon to Ordnance Maintenance Company, who repair the weapons before returning them in good order to the unit.

Lennen’s typical daily routine includes doing a walkthrough of the facility, to get a detailed accountability of the gear in the armory.

Once accounted for, he issues weapons to Marines who need additional time familiarizing themselves with different shooting positions prior to go to the range. He then cleans and performs maintenance on the weapons in his care, based on which have been used recently. During his day, he also keeps paperwork up to date and oversees the transfers of weapons to other units or ranges.

The junior Marine is also tasked with keeping the command appraised of gear that is passing into obsolescence and equipment best suited to replace it. His day ends with another accounting of the gear present, and locking down the facility, while ensuring the physical security of the armory.

His workday exists in sharp relief from his previous job, as an armorer at School of Infantry; where on a good day went from 4a.m. to 8p.m., and all night on a bad one.

Lennen strives to be what an armorer needs to be to make the position run smoothly. One must be efficient, possess a good eye for detail, honest, and capable of managing the impressive task of keeping the weapons in smoothly functioning order, explained Yenzer.

Lennen is all of these things, he said. “He’s very respectful, knows his job, and has the desire and thirst to expand his knowledge.”