Armory aims in at perfection
By Cpl. Shawn M. Toussaint
| | December 06, 2002
MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. --
"This is my rifle. There are many like it but this one is mine." These two sentences from Maj. Gen. William H. Rupertus' "My Rifle" were immortalized in Stanley Kubric's classic film "Full Metal Jacket."
To many recruits aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, those sentences ring true, at least until they turn their rifles in to the depot's Ordinance Division at the conclusion of training.
"Our armory is one of the biggest in the Marine Corps," said Gunnery Sgt. Gude Anderson, ordinance chief, Ordinance Division. "We provide support to more than 20,000 recruits and permanent personnel aboard the depot each year."
The mission of the Marines who work at the armory is to store, maintain, issue and recover all weapons aboard the depot, according to Anderson. Their mission also includes conducting performance evaluation staff visits at Weapons and Field Training Battalion. They provide armorers in support of rifle and pistol ranges and technical support to local Reserve Officer Training Corps stations and recruiting stations.
The Marines working at the armory stick to a very consistent schedule when carrying out their mission, according to Lance Cpl. Hamlet Tavarez, small arms technician, Ordinance Division.
Every Monday, the Marines are responsible for issuing approximately 350 to 750 M-16A2 service rifles to new incoming recruits. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, the armorers collect all the weapons from the graduating recruits. Before collecting the weapons, the Marines ensure the weapons have been properly cleaned. After all weapons have been returned, the technicians conduct a limited technical inspection on the rifles, usually Thursdays and Fridays.
"They do a good job," said Anderson about the ability of the armorers to carry out their mission on a day-to-day basis.
The technicians working at the armory know their role in the process of making new Marines.
"Our job is to ensure every recruit is issued a mechanically efficient weapon," said Tavarez.
"We realize that every recruit must qualify on the range in order to graduate. We take pride in knowing we are a huge part of the reason many recruits qualify on the range and become Marines," Tavarez added.
By doing an effective job maintaining weapons, the armory allows recruits to learn one of the essential aspects of being a Marine, which is being a proficient rifleman, according to Capt. Sean P. Dynan, assistant series commander, Company A.
Handling so many weapons year-round can be a logistical juggling act if a sound organizational system were not used at the armory. The armory's automated retrieval and storage machine handles the vast amount of weapons stored at the armory with ease, according to Lance Cpl. Jonathan D. Nelson, small arms technician, Ordinance Division. The machine brings together all the jobs needed to be done in a seamless manner. The machine systematically organizes, by serial number, every weapon stored and issued out at the armory. It lets the armorer know where each weapon is and who has it.
"The system eliminates a lot of paper work, giving us more time to actually work on weapons," said Nelson. "It works a lot like the system used at the dry cleaners. You punch in a number and the machine brings your clothes to the front. In our case, it happens to be a rifle or pistol."
Although the machine takes care of a big part of the organization of the weapons, the Marines are the ones who work tirelessly to ensure only the best weapons are issued at the armory, according to Anderson.
"I am very proud of my Marines," said Anderson. "They work hard every day to complete their mission. I believe they are the best small arms technicians in the Marine Corps, especially when you consider how much experience they get here fixing weapons."