Marines Train In Gulf Waters - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

05/08/04

Marines Train In Gulf Waters

Year-round, even during peace times, members of our nation's armed forces are trained for combat operations.

The skills and knowledge these exercises provide can mean the difference between life and death for a Marine, soldier or sailor and could ultimately decide the outcome of a war.

Nobody knows that better that than members of Gulfport's 4th Assault Amphibious Batallion, who were right in the heat of the battle when Operation Iraqi Freedom was launched last year.

The waters of the Mississippi Sound turned into a training ground for the 4th Assault Amphibious Batallion in Gulfport Saturday.

A crowd gathered on the beach to watch the Marines manuever these amphibious assault vehicles, also known as Amtraks.

"They're fully amphibious. They can make landings in up to 8-feet of plunging surf. And if you've ever been in a surf zone, 8 feet of plunging surf is a scary thought. They can travel for seven hours in the water," said United States Mraine Major Dan Yaroslaski.

The Amtrak is also well-armed with a machine gun and a grenade launcher.

"The most impressive thing is it carries a squad of marine infantry in the back. That's 18 to 25 Marines. They dismount and then go on the assault," Major Yaroslaski said. 

Training like this was put to the test when members of the platoon launched an assualt in Baghdad.

 "The water operations that we do are relevant because just like during Operation Iraqi Freedom, we were stuck just outside of Baghdad. The decision was made to enter Baghdad. The bridges weren't in place yet, so we went across the river," Yaroslaski said.

The Amtraks used operate on land 80-percent of the time and in the water the other 20-percent, but these Marines say training in the water is just as important as training on land.

"What we do as an amphibious unit...we carry infantry from ship to shore, so if we can't get them from the ship to shore, in any country, then our mission, we failed in our mission,"  said GySgt. Daniel Wad.

And that's just what training exercises like this one are geared to guard against.  The platoon will leave in June for summer camp at Camp Pendleton, where they will be able to take part in training exercises both on land and in the water.

By: Toni Miles

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