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Marines who work at the armory perform weapons check on a weapons on Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island S.C. June 21, 2019. The armory is in charge of over 10,000 rifles on Parris Island. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ryan Hageali)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Ryan Hageali

Depot armory offers unique challenges for armorers

28 Jun 2019 | Lance Cpl. Ryan Hageali Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island

While many Marines on the depot are still asleep, the armory Marines start preparing as early as 4 a.m. for a long day of cleaning, counting and issuing thousands of weapons.
The roughly 24 Marines of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island armory are in charge of everything involving firearms on the depot.
“The mission here is to ensure every single Marine and recruit can have full confidence when using our rifles, knowing we have maintained these weapons to their highest capability,” said Lance Cpl. Jonathon Luttrell. “We will work the long hours so everybody else on the base doesn’t have to.”
Chief Warrant Officer 2 James Ramey said the armory has a higher operational tempo compared to most other armories in the Marine Corps.
“It never stops here, other armories usually get holidays or breaks, but there isn’t necessarily a break in recruit training,” said Ramsey. “My Marines are always up for the challenge; they are great at what they do.”
Sgt. Tyler Neel, the platoon sergeant of the Parris Island armory, said junior Marines in the armory are in charge of platoons of recruits and must also be able to work at a professional level with senior enlisted Marines.
“Our junior Marines, unlike most shops, must be able to work and lead senior Marines,” said Neel. “Here we expect them to be able to go toe-to-toe with anybody who is higher rank. They need to know the job inside and out. In other armories, your junior Marines are normally kept in the shadows; your NCO’s fight all your fights. We expect our junior Marines to lay down the law.”
Neel added that with huge numbers of recruits and Marines receiving and turning in rifles every week, armorers must be experts in their craft.
“Because of the volume of what we do it’s extremely important that everyone knows exactly what to do,” Neel said. “When you have platoons of hundreds of recruits with an hour long time hack to get all their gear, everyone has to know exactly what they’re doing and they have to do it efficiently.”
The armory issues and receives approximately 600 rifles every week and must ensure every weapon is cleaned and checked for malfunctions.
“Compared to the rest of the Marine Corps armories, the weapons here are harder to maintain,” Neel said. “That’s due to all the wear and tear these rifles go through for three months straight of training, with that said we keep the weapons in good condition because of the hard work of our junior Marines.”
Neel said to keep all the rifles in good order, the Marines must communicate with each other and make sure their job is completed perfectly.
“It’s a team here,” Neel said. “If one Marine doesn’t do their job and we mess up, the whole base can shut down. We can’t be individuals here, it’s a tough job and [the Marines] need to become tough to do it. They learn to work together and take care of each other through the bad times.”
Luttrell said that the high level of camaraderie in the armory helps the Marines during the long work days.
“The one thing I can say about our Marines is they will do anything for one another,” Luttrell said. ”It’s a family here; no matter what time or place you need help, anybody will take care of you at a moment’s notice. That’s just what we do here.”

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