MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — Lance Cpl. Rosa Shaver’s day begins as early as 2 a.m. on a normal basis.  She rolls out of bed, showers, brushes her teeth, fixes her hair and kisses her two young children goodbye, never knowing what time she will return to say hello to them again.  This is the usual life of an armorer with Combat Logistics Regiment 27, 2nd Marine Logistics Group.

Shaver and her fellow Marines are welcomed to work every morning by more than 2,000 Marine Corps weapon systems to include M-16 and M4 rifles, M9 pistols, M249 Squad Automatic Weapons, 240G medium machine guns, .50 caliber Browning machine guns and MK-19 grenade launchers.

The Marines’ operational tempo is higher than ever as the 2nd Marine Logistics Group moves closer to its combat deployment to Iraq.  Marine armorers like Shaver have been constantly pushed to their physical and mental limits since pre-deployment workups began in November 2008.

Marines and sailors now constantly check out various weapons for a variety of purposes such as pre-deployment training, rifle and pistol ranges, general cleaning and transfer of weapons.

“We see as many as seven groups of up to 500 Marines a day,” said 22-year-old Shaver, a native of Lanham, Md.  “We normally find ourselves working between 60 and 70 hours a week.  But we do this because they have to be ready to deploy when the time comes.”

Their daily tasks come in abundance.  They are required to account for every last serial number on each weapon twice-a-day, ensure each weapon is maintained and cleaned regularly and distribute those weapons to Marines and sailors for training and deployments.

The Marines also handle night vision equipment, laser bore sights, bayonets, knives and other weapon accessories.  In addition to this, armorers troubleshoot 75 percent of problems causing weapons to malfunction.  Shaver, who has worked at the armory for more than one year, said if they come across a serious problem they cannot fix, it will be sent to 2nd Maintenance Battalion, 2nd MLG, for repair.

The armory also received a vast amount of new weapons in the past few months to accommodate the high number of Marines who are deploying, which has only added to the already heavy workload.

Shaver and her co-workers agreed that the job of an armorer is not for everyone.  Marines in the job field must possess a multitude of different qualities in order to be successful.  They must be familiar with computer software, knowledgeable with math and numbers, practice good time management and maintain a high level of physical fitness to handle the variety of weapons.

“These traits are necessary to do this job successfully,” Shaver said.  “Our mission is vital to Marines.  With us here, no one has to worry about losing a weapon or an accessory to a weapon.  They also don’t have to worry about the weapon malfunctioning, or even misfiring causing harm to the person or the weapon.”

The hours and stress remain at the forefront of difficulties that face these Marines though.  Lance Cpl. Nicholas Richards, an armorer with CLR-27, said the phrase “patience is a virtue,” applies well to their job.

“We deal with weapons, people, serial numbers, computers, ammunition, tools…” Richards explained.  “There’s a lot of physical and mental stress involved in what we do because we’re responsible for each weapon that a Marine uses.”

Richards said the armory will often be forced to close specific areas of operation due to the number of tasks that are expected of the Marines.  The native of Grandville, Mich. went on to say that their armory sometimes has so many customers that every armorer is needed to assist.

Despite the work conditions and high demand for armorers, the Marines keep moving forward.  They know that once the Marines of the logistics group deploy, the tempo will drop.  Until then, they plan to remain on their toes and ready for anything that could come next.

“The Marines have been able to accomplish each of their missions so far, and I have no doubt that they will be able to keep this up until things calm down,” said Detroit native Cpl. Joshua Gilmore, an armorer with CLR-27.  “They’re Marines, they have initiative and they know their jobs.”

Up Next

CSA praises NCOs, says two more tough years ahead

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — Lance Cpl. Rosa Shaver’s day begins as…