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Combat instructors bring the finest training to infantry Marines

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U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Joseph A. Renfro, a Combat Instructor with Alpha Company, Infantry Training Battalion (ITB), School of Infantry-East, loads an M240B Medium Machine Gun for an entry-level Marine with Alpha Company, ITB, during a live fire range on Range SR-8, Camp Lejeune, N.C. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Andrew Kuppers)

Upon graduating from Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, Marines who are tasked with becoming infantry Marines, are sent to the School of Infantry East to be trained by combat instructors at Camp Geiger located on Marine Corps Air Station New River.

Marines attend the school for 57 training days and are under the tutelage of the combat instructors them the basic skills and concepts an infantry Marine requires.

“When Marines first show up they have that instilled boot camp mannerism of just saying ‘yes, sir,’ ‘no, sir,’ or ‘yes, ma’am,’ ‘no, ma’am’ to a command given to them,” said Staff Sgt. Mark Herbst, a combat instructor with the infantry training battalion. “We want them to listen to commands, but we also want them to get to the point where they can communicate, build and convey plans and understand the concept of being an infantry Marine.”

Students going through the infantry training battalion endure various environments and styles of teaching to instill each lesson for their profession. Marines cover weapon systems, tactics and leadership qualities and principles that are expected of infantry leaders. The Marines are evaluated on their knowledge with written tests and on live-fire shooting ranges.

“Seeing those Marines grow makes me feel like I’m doing my job and that my instructors are doing their job,” said Gunnery Sgt. Abram Megrete, infantry training battalion weapons instructor, group chief instructor. “I love doing this job and seeing those Marines go into the operating forces as senior Marines and pass their knowledge off to junior Marines. That’s how the Marines Corps grows into a better force in readiness and in better form moving forward.”

Megrete’s job ensures students understand the knowledge they are given on weapons training, to include the M240B machine gun, M2A1 50 caliber machine gun and the MK 19 grenade launcher. The instructors work to improve and increase the cognitive skills of their Marines.

“As combat instructors we train our students on the basics of infantry understanding,” said Herbst. “We also are their mentors who build that understanding and idea as noncommissioned officers and staff noncommissioned officers that they can go to their leadership if they ever have a problem and want to speak to someone. This job is very humbling and I feel honored to be here.”

Story by Lance Cpl. Tavairus Hernandez

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