MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, KANEOHE (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's not an early start to the Fourth of July but the loud explosions in Windward Oahu this week are Marines training. And after 21 deployments their next mission will not be to Iraq or Afghanistan.
The Kaneohe Bay Range Training Facility is used by all military branches, the FBI and many other organizations. Thousands of bullets and dozens mortars and rockets can be fired in a day.
"This little nook in the corner of Oahu, this is what we need," said Brian Somers, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Marine Gunner, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines Infantry. "Commanders at all levels really have the opportunity to identify those shortfalls, weaknesses, strengths of their units out here."
Some of the Marines had a direct hit on the target 200 meters away and up a hill. Others were off by quite a bit. Out here you miss that bad only your pride gets hurt. In real life lives are on the line.
"They're getting ready to get deployed and potentially put in harm's way and we want them making noises here so if they have to make them somewhere else they're accurate and effective and doing what we expect them to do," said Gunner Somers.
Speaking of noise the blasting begins after 6:30 a.m. and stops at 11:00 at night.
"We do need to focus a lot on our nighttime training because most of what we do in the military is conducted in low light hours, or nighttime," said Gunner Somers.
This training session started Monday and ends next Monday. This regiment, nicknamed the Island Warriors, knows the importance of practice. It deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan 21 times and lost 119 infantrymen.
There are no plans to go back to the Middle East in the foreseeable future. Instead next month they'll go to the Big Island, then the Mojave Desert after that. Their next overseas deployment is to Okinawa around the New Year.
"We're always ready for where ever our nation needs us next," said Gunner Somers.
The training is not just about blowing things up. It's also about cleaning up. In fact much of the time is spent picking up and recycling every shell casing and cartridge that they fire.
The area near the coast of Kaneohe is also shared with the endangered red footed booby. The colony doesn't seem to bat a feather by the blasts.
"We've managed to exist this long with minimal damage," said Gunner Somers.
The Marines also warn residents in earshot of training events through local lawmakers.
"They're very curious as to what are those sounds. My son told me, 'oh should we evacuate?'" said Sharon Flores, mother of four kids under six years old. "We've kind of gotten accustomed to it."
"I think we can live with it but it is nice they keep telling the community what is going on and when to anticipate it and what the dates are," said Malia Megorden, Kailua. "We're lucky to have our military protecting us so we can't complain too much."