Story by SGT Bob Yarbrough on 09/24/2019Pvt. Peter Meyer, a Civil Affairs Specialist with Company A, 414th Civil Affairs Battalion, based in Southfield Michigan, didn't know exactly what to expect on the morning of September 14th, 2019. He was attending his first Unit Training Assembly since completing basic training and advanced individual training. "Officially," said Meyer, "I had my first one back in December and did that until March. Then I shipped out to basic. This is my first one being a Civil Affairs Soldier."
The 21 year old Sterling Heights native had a lot to take in for his first official training with his unit. Not only did they drive nearly 130 miles west to Fort Custer from Southfield, but they were also familiarizing and qualifying with a weapon that was new to Meyer.
The M240B is a belt fed machine gun used by a team of two soldiers; a gunner and assistant gunner who work as a team in loading and unloading, confirming target locations and impact, and keeping each other safe. It fires a 7.62 millimeter bullet and is used as a means of covering fire as well as devastating enemies with accurate bursts of fire.
Spc. Ben Marinchek, also a Civil Affairs Specialist with A Co., said being well trained on the M240B is an important part of a Civil Affairs soldier's skillset. "Civil Affairs moves as small teams, and we tend to move in vehicles a lot, transitioning from one meeting point to another conducting key leader engagements." said Marinchek "The 240 is generally mounted on that vehicle and that's our primary protection so being fluent with that weapons system is very important."
"I expected it to have a whole bunch of kick, but I learned to control that weapon super well." said Meyer. "That was my first time actually shooting a weapon full auto. Shooting the 240 was actually super thrilling.It doesn't have a lot of kick, but you know it's some firepower."
Meyer wore his newfound admiration for the machine gun on his face. "I enjoyed it thoroughly," he said with a grin.
The young man's path to being there that day wasn't immediately a special one. Like many Soldiers, he was simply following in the footsteps of his father. "My dad actually got me into it. He was in the Army." But Meyer's father wasn't just any type of Soldier in any unit. "He was Civil Affairs before me, and he was actually a part of the 414th," said Meyer.
Marinchek and Meyer served as a gunner and assistant gunner team during the unit's training at Fort Custer. They are also assigned to a team within A Co. together, and carry a bond of both professionalism and friendship that comes along with that relationship.
Although Meyer is very new to the unit, Marinchek said he thinks the younger soldier is going to work out fine. "He's doing really well," said Marinchek. "He's taking initiative and he's always ready to train and shows his motivation. That's good, that's what we like to see."