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NEWS | April 14, 2022

Transportation Soldiers qualify with .50 caliber machine guns

By Sgt. 1st Class Clinton Wood 88th Readiness Division

U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers from several companies in the 470th Movement Control Battalion, 103rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), 79th Theater Sustainment Command, Elwood, Illinois, trained on something not every Soldier is able to do at a range here April 9, 2022. They were able to engage targets from as far away as 1,300 yards behind the new Browning M2A1 50-caliber machine gun. Enhancements to the M2 include, a quick-change barrel, a fixed headspace and timing configuration, and flash hider.

The Soldiers were given 25 rounds each to zero the weapon at a 500-meter target and 150 more rounds to engage targets from a variety of distances in a familiarization pseudo qualification. Soldiers are given 140 rounds to both zero and qualify in an official record qualification (14 rounds to zero at a 500-meter target).

The 445th Transportation Company Commander, 2nd Lt. Morgan Jones, said her intent for the four-day training from April 7 until April 10 included having her crew-serve weapons teams qualify with the M2A1, all her Soldiers qualify with their assigned weapons, including the 240B machine gun, and convoy operations.

Jones said there was very little down time in the training schedule, because she wanted to ensure her Soldiers were trained on Level 10 tasks or those tasks that the individual Soldier is supposed to be able to perform.

Spc. Logan Everts of the company based in Waterloo, Iowa, was definitely trained on zeroing the M2A1. He only missed the target once in 25 shots. He said, “Down again,” matter-of-factly several times to his assistant gunner, Spc. Jonathan Youngberg. Both he and Youngberg have been in the Reserve for five years as motor transport operators and knocked down several targets in qualifying.

Everts, who studied the weapon in basic training but did not fire it, cited, “straight up luck” when asked why he thought he did so well. He said ensuring the weapon was stabilized and having Youngberg as a spotter also helped.

“Just following the fundamentals and walking our rounds up to the targets,” Everts said also was a key.

This weapon platform known as the “50 cal” or “Ma Deuce” has a huge following for all service members. It has been in service since 1918.

Spc. Michael Jumao As, assigned to the 251st Inland Cargo Transportation Company in Elwood, said he knew that he was going to feel energized even before he pushed the butterfly trigger.

Jumao As from the Philippines, who will be the next Army Reserve sergeant soon, was already planning to share his first-hand knowledge of firing the weapon with his fellow Soldiers.

This statement would encourage Jones. “When you are assigned something like that, that’s your baby. You need to be able to use it. You know how to operate it. You need to be able to teach somebody else how to use it,” she said.

Youngberg said he couldn’t pinpoint a way to describe sending rounds down range with this weapon to his fellow Soldiers. “It is just a feeling you can’t explain. You just have to feel it,” he said.

Pvt. Marcus Sierra, also with the Waterloo-based company, described unleashing a rain of steel on a target as not intimidating. “I really love it. It was really a fun experience,” he said.

Sierra knows this training will pay off. “If the need ever comes and I get deployed, I will always be a gunner because I know how to work the weapon beforehand. I am always available.”

Jones agreed that her Soldiers should be confident with their weapons. “I want them to feel confidence in themselves, trust that if they don't know something they have support and they can ask questions. We are never going to leave a Soldier behind, so this is your opportunity to learn being able to talk, train together, develop one another. As you walk away from something like this, learning something new, I think that as a success.”

So, did Jones fire the weapon? She answered with a huge smile that lasted several seconds, “Oh, yeah, I’ve fired them. I love it.” It's exhilarating, it's fun, it's something your average person doesn't get to do.”