U.S., South Korea send dirt flying at Rodriguez Range
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  1. #1

    Cool U.S., South Korea send dirt flying at Rodriguez Range

    U.S., South Korea send dirt flying at Rodriguez Range
    Marines from Okinawa practice line charge launches

    By Erik Slavin, Stars and Stripes
    Pacific edition, Saturday, April 1, 2006

    RODRIGUEZ RANGE, South Korea — Most of the Marines marking the soon-to-be-ignited mock minefield hear only the whoosh of C-4 explosives flung through the air.

    A few Marines sitting near window slits in the South Korean amphibious assault vehicle see a rocket land in the distance, trailing about 100 yards of white rope and blocks.

    For 25 seconds, nothing happens.

    Was it a dud? The combat engineers stashed in the vehicle’s belly still have their hands over their ears when an explosion loud enough to drown out a vintage Metallica concert sends a rumbling fireball skyward.

    The fireworks marked one of four successful line charge detonations Tuesday for 30 Marines from the Combat Assault Battalion, based at Camp Schwab, Okinawa, and 20 South Korean marines. The U.S. Marines landed their advance group in South Korea in early March and soon began working on a variety of training that can’t be done on Okinawa, including line charge launches.

    “There aren’t so many restrictions here,” said Lance Cpl. Travis Adams, who participated in his first explosive-laden line charge fire. “It’s a lot different than just reading about it.”

    From a trailer attached to the command vehicle, a mechanical arm launches the rocket over the vehicles, with the explosive line attached. The Marines then detonate the charge from the vehicle.

    Marines plant flags along the sides of the cleared area to direct infantry and armored units.

    The line blasts a path about 15 yards wide, enough for two Abrams tanks to clear side-by-side.

    “Land marking was the most important part today … and they did a good job of that,” Staff Sgt. Frank Borkowski said.

    The markers were planted amid mud holes and snow flurries that reminded everyone that they weren’t on tropical Okinawa anymore.

    The weather didn’t seem to bother the first-timers too much. Navy Corpsman Seaman Jean Atencio took a rare opportunity to jump outside of his specialty Tuesday while planting mine markers.

    “As a medic, I never really saw myself doing stuff like this,” Atencio said. “But it makes you feel more a part of the group.”

    Some Marines who already had experienced line charges weren’t quite as excited. But most were at least happy for the change of scenery and the chance to work with the South Koreans.

    “They’re quick to learn things, even with the language barrier,” Adams said. “They pick up things easily through hand signals and they’re ready to do anything.”


  2. #2


    Marines face Korean protesters during beach-storming exercise

    By T.D. Flack, Stars and Stripes
    Pacific edition, Saturday, April 1, 2006

    MALIPO BEACH, South Korea — Hundreds of U.S. and South Korean Marines were greeted with cheers and a few jeers as they stormed a beach during a training exercise here on Thursday.

    Crowds of high-ranking South Korean military officers and a few of their U.S. military peers cheered as the first wave of Marines hit the shore in amphibious assault vehicles that emerged through billowing smoke.

    But as the AAVs rolled to a stop and the Marines began advancing their way inland, sprinting short distances before diving into the wet sand to provide cover, about 25 protesters surrounded one vehicle.

    The small group chanted slogans and screamed, “Yankee, go home!” at the Marines. The group hurriedly slapped anti-U.S. exercise stickers on the AAV before one Marine began pulling them off.

    “I’m here to train for you,” he told the protesters.

    The protesters successfully prevented a South Korean tank from off-loading by standing in front of the ramp of the amphibious landing craft carrying it — one of two such landing craft involved in the exercise.

    Local police finally arrived and forced the protesters to leave the beach.

    Other than that, officials said, the exercise went off without a hitch.

    About 200 Marines and their Navy corpsmen from the Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment from Okinawa participated as the Sasebo-based USS Harpers Ferry, USS Essex and USS Juneau sat offshore.

    The South Korean marine officials would not say how many of their personnel participated in the exercise.

    Marine Brig. Gen. Steve Hummer, deputy commander of Marine Forces Pacific, said training with the South Korean forces is very important.

    “We exchange tactics, techniques and procedures,” Hummer said, pointing out that both nations use the same type of AAV.

    As he spoke, the protesters could be seen in the background. When asked to comment on their presence, Hummer said, “That’s what we’re all about. Freedom.”

    Echo Company commander 1st Lt. Patrick Lavoie called the exercise a success. He described it as taking a beach, reorganizing and pushing inland.

    “It’s a big deal to do it with another unit, let alone with another country,” he said.

    And Lance Cpl. Joshua Adrian, a team leader, noticed one of the biggest differences between working on Okinawa and in South Korea.

    “It’s a lot colder,” he said.


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