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Lance Cpl. Joseph Gonzales, the section leader of the Mortar Section, Weapons Platoon, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment leads his section in running notional Direct Fire Control drills Sept. 9 on Fort Pickett.

Photo by Sgt. Richard Blumenstein

News: Faces of 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment Lance Cpl. Joseph Gonzales, a mortarman: Part two of a series

10 Sep 2011 | Sgt. Richard Blumenstein

Lance Cpl. Joseph Gonzales spends his time training, and so do his Marines.

The 21-year-old Phoenix, Ariz., native is a mortarman with Weapons Platoon, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment. The Afghanistan veteran has served three years in the Marines, and currently holds the billet of section leader of the company's Mortar Section, a staff non-commissioned officer billet at least three ranks above his pay grade.

His job in the Marines entails supporting units by leading indirect fire onto targets. It also involves passing on his combat experience to the Marines he now leads.

"These are all new guys I'm working with, the more we practice the faster they are going to be," he said. "It's a lot of knowledge to come to."

During some downtime in the training, Sept. 9, Gonzales seized the opportunity to develop his Marines. He led an impromptu training session to strengthen his Marines’ skills in Fire Direction Control. His Marines plotted points and sighted in 60 mm mortars on imaginary targets. He led them in practicing using plotting boards and how to locate and shoot rounds onto a target.

"Right now we're going over setting up the guns and doing gun drills," he said. "When they're doing gun drills, they have to be fast getting on the guns. In a combat situation, they have to make sure the guns are up quick so we can support the troops. The faster they are, the faster they can get rounds down range."

The Marines and Sailors from the battalion conducted the Deployment for Training exercise. The DFT, took place Sept. 6-23, served to prepare the Marines for the missions they will conduct as the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit's Battalion Landing Team.