CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - Throughout the week of Feb. 24-28, Marines with Combat Logistics Regiment 17, 1st Marine Logistics Group participated in a course that evaluated their land navigation skills aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif.
“As a Leader and a Marine, it is your duty to be able to get your men to the fight, and more importantly, back home,” said Master Sgt. Trinidad Zendejas, training chief, CLR 17, 1st MLG.
Each Marine was issued a compass, protractor and map. To complete the course, they had to locate six points in six hours within an area covering more than two miles of arduous landscape.
“Being able to terrain associate and being comfortable with a map are basic skills that can directly affect mission accomplishment,” said Lance Cpl. Adam Raethke, engineer equipment mechanic, Landing Support Company, CLR 17, 1st MLG. “You always want to know where you are going when you are on a patrol. Nobody likes being lost.”
The Marines were split into pairs for the course and each pair had different points to locate in the training area so knowing how to avoid getting lost was crucial.
“At first we had a little trouble,” said Raethke, a Scappoose, Ore. native. “We couldn’t find our points, and when we were looking at the map, we chose bad routes sometimes. We eventually started from scratch, plotted our points again, and instead of trying to navigate the hills and draws, we stuck to the roads, which ended up being significantly easier and faster. The rain really made a lot of the hills too slippery.” Sergeant Robert Baca, communications chief, Landing Support Co., CLR-17, 1st MLG, agreed on the importance of the training. Adding, if there was a rescue operation to find or evacuate a Marine, not knowing basic land navigation skills could cost that Marine his life.
“We may have a GPS when we deploy, but it can break, run out of batteries or just not work properly,” said Baca. “Technology will fail us eventually.”
The true importance of this skill is shown when Marines deploy.
“I deployed twice with infantry units,” said Zendejas, a native of Houston, Texas. “During one of my deployments, we had a point man that was really good at getting us where we needed to go, and finding a good spot to hide in.”
Marines should prepare for the worst case scenarios and when things go wrong, they know how to respond.
“There is brilliance in the basics, and Marines practice the basics,” said Zendejas.