Soldiers pair with Germans for machine gun training
July 19, 2006
GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — Soldiers from the 2nd Cavalry (Stryker) Regiment sent hot lead down a German range Tuesday for the first time, weeks after arriving from Fort Lewis, Wash.
A dozen soldiers from the regiment’s Headquarters and Headquarters Troop traveled to Gailoh, a German small-arms range near Amberg, to fire machine guns alongside troops from the German army’s 12th Panzer (tank) Brigade.
Troop commander Capt. Kevin Siebold, 33, of Monroe, N.Y., said the training was aimed at strengthening bonds with the German unit, which the 2nd Cav will partner in Germany.
Most of the HHT soldiers doing the training arrived here in the last few weeks, said Siebold, who arrived two weeks ago.
The machine gun used at the range was the German MG3, a weapon comparable to the American M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon machine gun.
Capt. Klaus Merz, 40, of the 12th Panzer Brigade, said the MG3 is known as “the queen of hand weapons.”
It has a range of up to 1,800 meters and fires 7.62 mm bullets at a rate of 1,200 rounds per minute. At that rate the gun can use up a 600-round ammunition belt in 30 seconds.
Merz said he was happy to see the return of 2nd Cav.
“In 1986, I was stationed at Erlangen and we had a partnership with a Pershing (missile) platoon. “I also served in Bosnia and we always worked with American soldiers,” he said.
Before the shooting started, HHT soldier Pfc. Justin Taylor, 20, of Hanover, Pa., admitted he had an itchy trigger finger.
The self-confessed “gun nut” who has attended the Army’s armorer school, said he had read about the MG3’s predecessor, the MG42, which was used in World War II.
“My grandfather had a 30-06, a 12-gauge shotgun and a .38 Special that I used to fire. The reason I joined the Army was to learn more about guns,” said Taylor as he watched Merz disassemble an MG3.
After watching a German soldier demonstrate the correct procedure for loading and firing the weapon, one of the HHT soldiers, Sgt. 1st Class Roger Muzzy, 40, of Mountain Home, Idaho, stepped onto the range.
Moments later he was blasting a target painted to look like a small piece of German countryside.
His shots hit dead center on the first three targets with nine out of 15 rounds striking larger target circles.
Muzzy, an experienced SAW gunner, said he was impressed with the German weapon.
“There was absolutely no kick at all. It was like firing something that was mounted and it was very accurate. The SAW is only 5.56 mm; this is 7.62 mm, and it’s smoother than the SAW,” he said.
Muzzy also observed that the German range was more relaxed than an American range.
“We are used to more commands about getting ready, loading the weapon and making sure it is safe to fire. These guys just tell you to shoot the weapon,” he said.