OJOJIHARA, Japan -- They sleep in the mud and rain for days on end. If they are lucky, they sleep in the hard confined back of a M23 7-ton vehicle. Instead of the normal routine of lifting weights at the gym they lift and move a 16,000 pound gub-several times in one day.
This is just a glimpse of the life the Marines of India Battery, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, led during their artillery exercise training in the Ojojihara Maneuver Area.
Many people's impressions of artillery are just guys pulling the triggers of big guns, firing rounds over long distances, but that is only a small part of their job.
It takes a lot of hard work, training and planning to do what artillery Marines do, according to Gunnery Sgt. John W. Rogers, battery gunnery sergeant, India battery3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division.
The main purpose of artillery is to shoot, move and communicate, but there is a lot to be done to get to that point.
A 7-ton truck drives into position and the Marines of India Battery spring into action. Leaping out of the back of the truck, they quickly unhook the 155mm Medium Howitzer and prepare to sight the gun for accurate firing. They then quickly dig holes for the spades to dig in when the Howitzer fires.
Two Marines prepare an ammo pit and a powder pit on opposite sides of the truck. The Marines then have to cover any communication wire around their area and dig fighting holes. In a matter minutes, the gun is ready for action with Marines prepared to load and fire the first round according to Rogers.
"With an individual Howitzer, a good section will have the gun line set up in two minutes," Rogers said.
On short notice, Marines get their marching orders. They have to pack up their gear, take down the Howitzer, hook it back up to the truck, move to another location and start the process all over again.
Occasionally, artillery Marines will have to do a "hip shoot" en route to their new firing location when artillery is needed for immediate support. A hip shoot is when they stop at the first clear area to set up their guns; fire off one round to check aim and make corrections; then the entire battery fires off rounds. The battery then quickly packs up and continues on to their scheduled position.
But before the Marines and artillery can move into position, the new area has to be scouted and prepared. A truckload of Marines- the advanced party- is sent to the new position to reconnoiter and secure the new position. Once secured, the Marines place marking posts and a line for the 7-tons to drive into their position. Once the trucks arrive, the set-up for firing starts all over again. The Marines may do this several times in one day, and as well as sometimes at night, which can often times be very dangerous.
Additional training includes land navigation, security patrols, digging fighting holes and quickly putting up camouflage netting over the truck to conceal their position. To watch the Marines of India Battery could give anyone an appreciation of how hard they work, according to Capt. Brandon A. Moore, commanding officer, Battery India, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, . He is more than proud of his Marines, and is quick to say how hard they work.
"These are some of the hardest working Marines out there and they take a lot of pride in what they do," Moore said. "Basically, they do almost all of the things that the infantry does, but have the ability to fire a howitzer. Even most infantrymen can't say they can do that."