An estimated 500 members of the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines from Camp Pendleton took part in live weapons training Monday at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms.
Fire support teams and infantry rolled out at dawn in amphibious personnel carriers toting rifles, ammunition, explosives, body armor, food, water and everything else they take into real combat.
Adopted by San Clemente in 1996, the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines last fought in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, and returned in April 2012. Their numbers include young men in their teens and multi-deployment veterans with more than 20 years in the Marines. They call themselves "The Magnificent Bastards."
The 2nd Battalion is on several weeks training at the sprawling combat center, which covers more than 900 square miles of the Mojave Desert and includes most of the Bouillon Mountain range, in San Bernardino County.
"Our objective is to kill the enemy, and that's what we're training for here," Maj. Serge Morosoff, the 2nd Battalion's second-in-command, said inside a tented command compound before sunrise Jan. 21. "Today's live weapons exercise will include tanks and aircraft."
Morosoff invited Patch to the combat center in part to express his gratitude to the people of San Clemente, who adopted the Magnificent Bastards in the 1990s and staged a parade for the 2nd Battalion when they returned from Afghanistan in April.
"We appreciate the people of San Clemente and their support," Morosoff said. "There's a lot of military families there and retired Marines. I know some of our guys here miss the weather in San Clemente."
The San Clemente Chamber of Commerce and the City of San Clemente adopted the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines in July 1996, in support of the "America Supporting Americans" program, according to the chamber.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, more than 4,400 members of the U.S. military have died in Iraq and more than 2,000 have died in the ongoing war in Afghanistan. According to a New York Times analysis of Department of Defense statistics, the Army has suffered more dead in Afghanistan, but the Marine Corps, with fewer troops, has had a higher casualty rate.
Members of the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines who spoke to Patch on Monday said they come from towns and cities in Los Angeles County, Contra Costa County, Ohio, Mississippi, Florida and West Virginia.
For more information about the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines visit www.1stmardiv.marines.mil.