Marine Corps

July 19, 2012

MAWTS-1 Combat Camera provides vital assets to squadron, station, Corps

Lance Cpl. Sean Dennison
Desert Warrior Staff

LCpl. Jacob J. Krummel, a Combat Videographer for Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1, takes video of a drone flying over Yuma Proving Grounds, near Yuma, Ariz., before it is shot at by U.S. Marines with 3rd Low Altitude Air Defense, Oct. 1, 2011. 3rd LAAD Marines hone their skills during an exercise at YPG.

Twice a year, for seven weeks at a time, the station floods with Marines and service members from across the country and around the world. This magical time of congestion is called the Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course, hosted by Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1.

The course hosts several large-scale operations, spanning from Arizona to California. There’s a ton of moving parts, the documentation of which would be impossible if not for a small shop of Marines known as MAWTS-1 Combat Camera.

Lance Cpl. Amy Muir, left, a MAWTS-1 production specialist. A U.S. Marine Helicopter Support Team conducts an external lift with a Marine Corps CH-53 in the Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range, Calif., March 2012. The external lift was in support of Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course 2-12, hosted by Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One.

“The biggest piece we bring to the training command is the ability to create training materials with video and still imagery,” said Capt. Anthony Lopez, the MAWTS-1 Combat Camera division head and assistant academics officer.

The products range from course exams, name instructional videos explaining the six functions of Marine Corps Aviation, printed material and graphic illustrations, explained Lopez, a native of Riverside, Calif.

Every WTI student has, in one way or another, been influenced by MAWTS-1 Combat Camera’s products, whether it’s a course booklet or comprehensive end of course video production.

This particular Combat Camera section is relatively young, coming to existence around 2006.

“I remember when I first got here, our jobs were sporadic,” said Cpl. Jacob Krummel, a MAWTS-1 videographer and a native of Los Angeles. “We wouldn’t do much with our footage; they’d just sit in the archives.”

Krummel explains how, originally, it used to be the night lab specialists who put together videos. However, it was a collateral duty and not a designated job, the need for a constant supply of training material eventually inspired then MAWTS-1’s commanding officer Col. Raymond Fox to seek out a Combat Camera shop for the squadron.

“The original design came from Marine Corps Combat Service Support Schools,” said Staff Sgt. Robert Brown, the MAWTS-1 combat camera chief and a native of Fayetteville, N.C. Camp Johnson’s combat camera shop is within a military occupational school at Combat Service Support Schools.MAWTS-1 Combat Camera shop, like the rest of the squadron, flourishes during WTI.

Once the biannual event kicks off, it’s time for the physically and mentally demanding task of capturing the training and putting it together for the instructors and students.

Mentally demanding because only a handful of Marines are charged with preparing course materials, resolving conflicted schedules, manifesting themselves on flights and working double-digit hours, typically for six out of seven days a week.

U.S. Marines from Battery C, 1st Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment (Btry C, 1/11) conduct firing mission during Howitzer Live Fire mission, near Siphon 8 training area, Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range, Calif., April 12, 2012. Howitzer Live Fire was in support of Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course 2-12 hosted by Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One.

Physically demanding, because an assignment can take place on base just as easily as out in the California Mountains and Arizona deserts. One shoot may have the Marines flying in an Osprey while others are off with an artillery battery.

It’s the sort of versatility Marines are known for and only they can pull off.

“However many hours the pilots and crews are out, that’s when we’re out,” said Krummel.

To someone on the outside, it may not seem like much, but consider this: like their station brethren, MAWTS-1 Combat Camera is recording the history of the Marine Corps. Every pixel passing through the retinas of a WTI student, every photo used, is a leaf on the tree of military training.

Especially with a rapidly thinning force, it’s important for the Marines of today and the Marines of tomorrow, to know where they came from.

That’s where Combat Camera comes in, and they must be aware of this.

“We get to witness nearly every side of the Marine Corps,” said Sgt. Richard Tetreau, a MAWTS-1 production specialist and a native of Newport, Wash.

Be sure to keep an eye out for more from the Marines at MAWTS-1’s combat camera.

A U.S. Marine with Weapons Platoon, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment engages targets with a M249 Squad Automatic Weapon during Assault Support Tactics 1 (AST-1) at the base of Observation Point Feets, Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range, Calif., April 16, 2012. AST-1 was in support of WTI 2-12, hosted by Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One.

Staff Sgt. Robert Brown, the Marine Aviation Tactics and Weapons Squadron 1 combat camera chief and a native of Fayetteville, N.C., holds onto Pfc. Brandon Ponyah, a MAWTS-1 videographer and native of Flagstaff, Ariz., as he documents an MV-22 Opsrey external lift at Bull Landing Zone, part of the Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range in California, April 5.

Cpl. Phillip Brunch, Cpl. Alphonse Didomenico, and Cpl. Olivia Childers, firefighters with Marine Wing Support Squadron 373 evacuate a simulated casualty from a UH-1 Huey during an Aircraft Recovery exercise at K-9 Village, Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz., Oct. 3, 2011.

U. S. Marine Corps UH-1Y Huey helicopters and Royal Canadian Soldiers perform fast roping exercises during WTI 2-12, March 2012. The fast ropping exercises were in support of Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course 2-12, hosted by Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One.

MWSS-373 was in support of Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course 1-12, hosted by Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One.

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