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Midshipman 3rd Class Brendan McKenna, a Wantagh, New York, native and sophomore at the U.S. Naval Academy, fires a Mark 19 40 mm grenade machine gun on a live-fire range with Marine Raiders from Marine Forces Special Operations Command on Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, July 26, 2023. While training with MARSOC, the midshipmen were able to experience the variety of tools and weapons employed by critical skills operators and special operations officers. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Henry Rodriguez)

Photo by Cpl. Henry Rodriguez

USNA Midshipmen visit MARSOC

4 Aug 2023 | Cpl. Henry Rodriguez II Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command

CAMP LEJEUNE, NC – Midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy visited Marine Forces Special Operations Command on Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, July 24-Aug. 4, 2023.

The annual trip is part of the U.S. Naval Academy Marine Air-Ground Task Force program which gives midshipmen an opportunity to experience a broad view of what their service in the Marine Corps may look like. This visit aimed to give midshipmen a realistic insight into Marine Corps operations from the perspective of MARSOC.

Throughout the training, midshipmen were afforded the opportunity to learn from the same instructors that teach new critical skills operators, special operations officers, and support staff, as well as gain exposure to weapons and tactics used by CSOs and SOOs in a deployed environment.

“We have been able to let them experience the Mark 19 grenade launcher, mortar emplacement, fire and maneuver concepts, the M240B machine gun, a variety of systems that our teams and companies utilize,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 John Lucero, Marine Gunner, MARSOC.

The goal of the training is to show the midshipmen some of the options they have coming out of the Naval Academy, should they elect to commission into the Marine Corps.

“I came in wanting to go the aviation route, but this stuff, it’s different,” said Midshipman 3rd Class Diego Hernandez, a Temecula, Calif., native. “Working with the CSOs has changed my mind some, it’s made me want to go more to the ground combat side.”

For the CSOs and SOOs that make up the bulk of MARSOC’s operational force, the benefits extend beyond just honing their ability to teach.

“It’s always good to be able to tell more people about MARSOC and what we do,” said a CSO. “And who knows, maybe one day, one or two of these guys will go through the pipeline and contribute to the MARSOC mission.”

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