With more than 1, 200 Marines from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard the USS Peleliu, the MEU’s armory is at full capacity. Ensuring the weapons are secure and in operable condition, armourers, electric optical ordinance repair technicians and armory custodians work around the clock.
The MEU’s armory team is made up of four armourers, two optics technicians and nine custodians who work together to ensure the mission readiness of the armory is always on target. They are tasked with maintaining, repairing, securing, issuing, de-issuing and keeping accountability of the weapons and optics that are aboard.
“We support the MEU and its assets in the issue, maintenance and operation of its weapon systems and platforms,” said Cpl. Matthew R. Dula, electric optical ordinance repair technician, Battalion Landing Team 3/5, 15th MEU. “This is one of the most crucial jobs in the Marine Corps. What good is a Marine rifleman without a functioning rifle? The Marine Corps would not be what it is without its weapon systems,” added Dula, 23, from Jacksonville, N.C.
In all the MEU has 21 different weapon types including small arms, sniper rifles, crew service weapons, grenade launchers, rocket launchers, mortars and optics.
“I’m the [non-commissioned officer in charge] of the armory,” said Sgt. Sigilfredo Garcia, armourer, Command Element, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. “If anyone comes to me with a problem, I’ll do whatever I can to fix it or order them a replacement so they will have an operating weapon or optic as soon as possible.”
To start the day, the Marines take full accountability of the weapons they are charged with accounting for and maintaining. The count is taken twice in a 24-hour period. When they’re not fixing, ordering or counting weapons and optics, they are checking them out and ensuring Marines are conducting required monthly weapons maintenance and cleaning.
“If something goes wrong, we will be here to fix it and return the armory to 100 percent readiness,” added Garcia, 26, from Lexington, Neb.
Although their numbers are small, the team maintains readiness and is able to give servicemembers the tools they need to fight.