Marine reservists train on beach staying combat ready

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - South Mississippians got a rare opportunity to see what it takes to keep our military ready to defend our nation at a moment's notice. Marine reservists spent Saturday on the beach in Gulfport polishing their skills both on land and on water.

The heavy military equipment drew a lot of curious onlookers to the beach.

"The American public needs to know what the Marines do and what they contribute to the nation," said Capt. Jason Burgan. "Obviously, we welcome whoever to come watch and take a look at what we're doing."

Reservists say what they're doing is making sure Third Platoon Company A, Fourth Assault Amphibian Battalion members are comfortable maneuvering.

"They need proper driving skills in the water and on land. Especially here in the water to be able to do proper recovery of vehicles if something goes wrong," said Capt. Burgan. "Proper water driving and dealing with different waves and troughs in the water."

The reservists are based out of the Gulfport Seabee Base and have deployed to Iraq three times since 2003. Officials say it's important the group stays ready for the War on Terror.

" The Assault Amphibian Vehicles, the main purpose is to carry Marines from ship to objective, so they would carry the Marines from ship to shore and then inland to follow on objective," Capt. Burgan said. "So each vehicle would carry anywhere from 18 to 22 combat loaded Marines, so if there were any type of contingencies where the course of action was to send Marines from ship into a country [by] assaulting on the beach."

The troops say training done on Mississippi's beach will have them ready for whatever they may encounter on the enemy's shoreline. Marine reservists train in the water from January to April. Next month, they'll start practicing gunnery.

Copyright 2011 WLOX. All rights reserved.