The end of the summer is here, and along with that is my final blog. I literally spent my last two days in Hawaii in the field for training. Although it made the plans for leaving difficult, I still wouldn’t have wanted to spend it any other way. We were in the same place as the week prior - McTab Training in Kaneohe Bay (which is the Marine Corps base).
I didn’t explain the training area we were at in the previous blog. The training area is called Marine Corps Training Area Bellows (MCTAB). Bellows is a beautiful beach that has a historic past dating back to WWII, when it was an airfield that was attacked along with other military installations on December 7th. I heard that the village came about after a rumored $400 million in renovations that consisted of more than 70 buildings (which are mostly container units that have been altered to resemble buildings), small generators, and market simulations with fake fruit, fish and clothes! When I was there, the men that had already been deployed said that it was extremely similar to what they remember – which made it a priceless experience.
There were pretty much three types of missions we did while we were there. The main focus was conducting raids, which are fast-paced movements into a location to capture a high value target. The other missions consisted of participating in quick reaction forces and doing route clearances. Quick reaction missions are when there is an attack and another unit needs assistance, or when there is information on where mortar fire came from and a unit is dispatched to try and keep the enemy from getting away. Route clearances are basically missions that consist of you keeping your eyes peeled for IED’s (Improvised Explosive Devices), which are popular in the Middle East.
During a route clearance I was the platoon leader and had to deploy on of my units to capture an enemy that had laid IEDs and was trying to escape the area. That was awesome and an eye opening experience, seeing similar things worked in the real army compared to what we are taught in ROTC. Acting on instincts and making decisions and sticking with them is one of the main things we are taught, and that is exactly how it needs to be. Another mission I was a part of, I was tasked at being a team leader in charge of two other men during our raid. I had to use obstacles to our advantage and take those men on room clearings with me.
One of the main things that I learned that day is that combat is SO fast-paced. I look back on it now and it seems like a blur even though we were on the objective for more than 20 minutes. There is so much that is going on in your head at those times and this is only training! Unbelievably, it’s going to be three times faster when there are live rounds flying around and people have to make decisions that could affect another. This has definitely opened my eyes.
Well, on the other side, I’m in High Point now after three days of traveling and less than 10 days of family time, my summer has come to an end. As ready as I am to be a commissioned officer in the United States Army, I think I’m going to bury that for a few more months and enjoy my senior year at High Point University! If anyone has any questions don’t be too shy to ask me, any other ROTC members, or the Admission Counselors!
Thanks for taking time to read my stuff!
Cadet James Garrity