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The freezing temperatures and driving snow were definitely foreign to the Hawaii-based Marines of 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment recently during live-fire artillery training in the Japan Self-Defense Force’s Hijudai Training Area.

“The weather and terrain in this region has definitely created a shared hardship amongst all Marines,” said Capt. David Everly, commanding officer of Battery B, in a Marine Corps news release. “We are learning new things about our capabilities (under harsh conditions) every day. The Marines have exceeded all of our expectations and they have continued to step up their level of performance throughout the exercise.”

The Marines are attached to the 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division on Okinawa as part of the Unit Deployment Program. They were sent to the Hijudai range in late January through early February, where they tested their artillery skills and proficiency under harsh winter conditions.

Under an agreement with the JSDF, Marine live-fire artillery training is now conducted on five ranges in mainland Japan and Hokkaido.

Everly said the successful completion of the operational readiness exercise was the teamwork exhibited by the various teams, from the forward observers to the cannoneers. Several sections, including the motor transport and ammunition teams, he said in the release, stood out as “exceptional.”

The rough terrain, freezing temperatures and, at times, driving snow made teamwork paramount for the Marines used to Hawaii’s subtropical climate.

“It was extremely challenging to come out here the first couple of days,” said Lance. Cpl. Benjamin H. Forsythe, a gunner with Battery B, in the release. “It was a shock at first, but after a short adjustment period we were able to get on track.”

And as the artillery unit worked hard under the harsh conditions, their spiritual needs were served by Navy Lt. Thomas A. Ianucci, battalion chaplain, and Petty Officer 3rd Class John Paul Boulden, a religious programs specialist.

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