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Cpl. Christopher Loftin, an armorer with Marine Wing Support Squadron 172, follows the manual of an M-249 squad automatic weapon while conducting an inspection in Iraq. Marines use the weapon as a portable automatic machine gun while on patrols and convoys. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo / Released)

Photo by Sgt. George J. Papastrat

MWSS-172 armorer keeps mission rolling

25 Aug 2008 | Cpl. George J. Papastrat

AL ASAD, Iraq – Tucked away in a corner of the Marine Wing Support Squadron 172 armory, Cpl. Christopher Loftin peered intently at the springs and pins of a trigger mechanism in an M-2 .50 caliber machine gun.

A bead of sweat ran down the Valley Mills, Texas-native’s forehead as me made subtle tweaks and nudges to the weapon – ensuring it would fire correctly.

Loftin undertook similar tasks every day while deployed as an armorer with MWSS-172, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward). Yet the repetitive nature of the job never dulled Loftin’s concentration. He knew that even in an increasingly peaceful Iraq the weapons he maintained and repaired could still be the only thing between a fellow Marine and an enemy.

“My job kept my unit mission capable in theater,” said Loftin, who recently completed his first combat tour. “Armorers maintain the lifeline of the Corps, their weapons.”

In addition to maintaining, repairing and accounting for the unit’s more than 300 weapons, Loftin dedicated significant time to weapons training.

Some of the Marines and sailors had the opportunity to refine their weapons skills at live-fire shoots at the ranges here, according to Loftin. These refresher courses on weapons employment were critical to mission readiness.

Loftin’s supervisor, Staff Sgt. James Gross, described the 20-year-old as continually focused on his duties and an asset to the unit.

Prior to joining the Corps, Loftin went to college for a year and also worked for his uncle’s construction company.  He came to the realization that “something was missing” in his life. Influenced by a friend who had recently joined the Corps, Loftin decided to enlist.

“I joined the Corps for the pride of serving my country,” said Loftin. “In my experiences, I not only have found that pride but have become mentally and physically stronger.”


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3rd Marine Aircraft Wing