I’ve fired around a half dozen belt fed weapons systems during my time in service; some bigger and louder than others, and all of them a kick ass way to spend an afternoon. Well, that is until you realize the effects of firing them over a longer period of time. It’s not just loud noise or dangerous, hot metal. I remember spending an entire day working as a lane safety for a .50 cal machine gun range. I stood less than three feet from a firing heavy machine gun all day, burning my hands as I changed the barrels when they became too hot despite using a specially designed heat mitten. At a certain point of temperature, it doesn’t matter anymore. Glove or not, you’re getting burned. I remember I set a hot barrel a bit too close to the side of my foot while it was cooling and the damn barrel burned my foot through my boot.
This is part and parcel the Army’s (and I’m assuming the Marine Corps as well) main area of training. We’d spent hundred of hours a year on a variety of ranges and not just when we were the ones firing. It takes dozens of people to run most ranges, so in the lovely mist that is Fort Lewis in the winter and spring, your entire platoon would be spend whole days at the range, near these loud and dangerous devices. But what if that was enough to hurt you? I was already told as long as we had proper eye and ear protection, we were golden. The truth is much darker.
00:45 – Blast pressure report on heavy use of crew served weapons
11:40 – Afghanistan update from recent SIGAR report
22:32 – Water contamination at 126 DOD sites
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