Friday, August 22, 2008

Mojave Viper: Two Weeks at the Gates to Hades

Trying to stay cool during the hottest part of the hottest day of the hottest month in the hottest place on earth
Sergeant Kris Battles hard at work
Mortar gun crew under cammie netting preparing for a gun shoot

81mm Mortar Platoon Marine saddled up for live fire training at Range Quackenbush
Weapons Company 2/25 Marine practices with remote control IED detection robot
Marines of Echo Company 2/25 do a dry run up Machine Gun Hill at Range 400

Portrait of Gunnery Sergeant Roger E. Hoke, Jr. Just prior to coming out to Mojave Viper he donated over a liter and a half of bone marrow to his brother. Read about it here.

For two weeks, from August 3 until the 17th, Sergeant Kris Battles and I participated in a training evolution called Mojave Viper. Mojave Viper is a series of demanding live fire exercises in the brutal desert conditions of the Marine Corps base at Twentynine Palms, California. We were invited to cover the training of 2nd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment (2/25). 2/25 is a Marine Reserve unit preparing for a deployment to Al Anbar Province, Iraq. The unforgiving August heat and rugged terrain of The Stumps is the perfect place to do this.

Sergeant Battles and I covered the departure ceremony of the battalion's Gulf Company this past May. At Mojave Viper we were afforded the chance to cover their Weapons, H&S, Fox and Echo Companies. The overwhelming majority of Reserve Marines in this battalion are from the Northeastern States of New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Maine, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Coming from Pennsylvania myself I found I had alot in common with these guys.

The heat exceeded 100 degrees everyday. 106 degrees in the shade was the mid-day norm. I wore the new Modular Tactical Vest. The MTV has gotten mixed reviews. For my part I can tell you it's heavy and when buttoned up sizziling in 120 plus degrees for hours in the back of an amphibious assualt vehicle with 20 other Marines it will suck every molecule of H2O out of you. You can see the Gates of Hades just a few feet away without a problem.

The battalion's Public Affairs Officer was kind enough to write and article about us. Check it out.