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thedrifter
11-08-04, 08:05 AM
Stinger Marines Blast MIGs on Wake Island

WAKE ISLAND - "Red free alpha!" The Marines of 1st Stinger Battery, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, yelled those three words over and over again on the WWII-ravaged, tropical island during an anti-aircraft live-fire exercise here Oct. 26.

The words red free alpha, which mean gunners are clear to engage their identified enemy targets, were muffled by the sounds of the Stinger weapon systems' and .50-caliber machine guns' rounds impacting aerial targets in the skies above.

The day and night exercise was held in order to give the Stinger battery's gunners an opportunity to qualify with their assigned weapons, allowing them to meet training and readiness requirements. During the shoot, 30 Stinger missiles and 25,000 .50-caliber machine gun rounds destroyed 32 Russian MIG replica, remote control airplanes that were used as targets.

"This was the best exercise I have ever had the pleasure of being a part of," said Maj. Tracy L. Peacock, the battery's commanding officer, while addressing the battery after the night shoot. "This exercise was the best exercise yet because the 1st Stinger Battery is the best unit I've been with. The Marines in the battery are young, but they are extremely motivated and proficient at their jobs."

The Stinger gunners fired their shoulder-fired weapon systems off the southern shore of Wake Island over the Pacific Ocean and at the 68-pound, miniature MIG-23 "Flogger" remote control planes with nearly 90 percent accuracy, Peacock said.

The Stinger weapon system, first introduced in 1982, is a guided missile system that gives Marines the ability to engage low-flying, propeller-driven and helicopter aircraft from nearly six kilometers away, according to Sgt. Eric C. Ramirez, a gunner with the battery.

With the launcher seated on a gunner's shoulder, the gunner keeps the missile aimed at a target. Once the Stinger missile is fired, it searches for a heat source to lock onto, Ramirez explained.

The Stinger's guidance system transmits audible tones while the gunner is tracking the objective target, Ramirez explained. When the gunner hears a steady tone, he elevates the missile about 10 degrees to compensate for the distance the missile drops between the time the launch motor ejects and the flight motor engages.

The exercise is very important for the combat readiness of the battery, Peacock explained.

"When a Marine is ready to deploy a (Stinger) missile in a combat zone, that Marine needs to know his training like it is second nature," Peacock said. "This type of training prepares the gunners for the important job of defending anything from airfields to shipping ports."

The exercise provided and added levels of confidence within the battery.

"The exercise gives a gunner confidence that he can fire this missile correctly, and if he needs fall back on the (.50-caliber machine gun), he can do so," said Cpl. Derek S. Lisowski, a gunner with the battery. "When (our gunners) get out in combat, we'll know exactly what we're doing, and there will be no question that our missiles will be on target."


http://images.military.com/pics/110304_Stinger_01.jpg

Marines from 1st Stinger Battery, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, fire a Stinger missile from the southern shore of Wake Island during a live-fire exercise here Oct. 27. (Official U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. James B.M. Drake)

Ellie