Local Marine Takes Part In Training Exercise In Morocco

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By Air Force Staff Sgt. Jessica Switzer

CAP DRAA, Morocco – The sun barely peeked over the horizon when the stillness was shattered by the roar of artillery. The son of a Roselle Park couple crawled out of his tent into the southern Moroccan morning to begin another day.

Marine Corps Sgt. Michael K. Gacsi, son of Mark and Kathy Lapreze of Roselle Park, is in Morocco supporting exercise African Lion 2011.

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“I maintain tactical trucks in operating condition,” said Gacsi, a 2004 graduate of Roselle Park High School. “I also train the reserve mechanics who are here.”

African Lion is an exercise between the Kingdom of Morocco and the U.S. that involves more than 2,000 U.S. service members and approximately 900 members of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces. The exercise serves as a way for both U.S. and Moroccan military members to hone their skills and learn to work together to a accomplish missions.

“Beside the language barrier, Morocco is a unique training area,” said Gacsi, a motor transportation mechanic assigned to the 3rd Battalion 14th Marine Regiment, Headquarters Battery, Philadelphia, Pa. “Both the terrain and weather are challenging.”

In spite of the barriers, Gacsi and his fellow servicemembers worked with the Moroccan forces on different types of military training including command post, live fire, peacekeeping operations, disaster response, aerial refueling and low-level flight training. Both the Moroccan and U.S. forces receive valuable training during the course of the exercise.

“I’m training the Reserve Marines and our Moroccan counterparts,” said Gacsi. “It’s difficult with limited supplies, but we’re making do.”

Gacsi and his fellow service members not only trained in the Moroccan desert, they lived there as well. They experienced sandstorms, the rain showers of the wet season and the heat that traditionally goes with a desert. They even had an opportunity to spend some time off duty experiencing the culture and seeing the sights.

“The people and country are all very interesting,” said Gacsi, who has been in the military for six years. “When I first got here it was hot and dry, now it’s much more wet and humid.”

As the artificial thunder of artillery fire dies away for a moment, the sun rises fully above the desert horizon and begins its journey toward the nearby Atlantic Ocean. Gacsi and the other participants in African Lion 2011 go about their business sharing experiences and knowledge with each other and their Moroccan counterparts.

 

Marine Corps Sgt. Michael K. Gacsi is a motor transportation mechanic assigned to the 3rd Battalion 14th Marine Regiment, Headquarters Battery, Philadelphia, Pa. He recently deployed to Morocco in support of a bilateral training exercise with the Moroccan military. (Photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Sean Worrell)

Marines clean their weapons, talk and find other ways to spend their off-duty time while deployed to southern Morocco during African Lion 2011. While in the Cap Draa training area they experienced sandstorms, the rain showers of the wet season and the heat that traditionally goes with a desert. (Photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Sean Worrell)

A team of Marines prepares to fire an M777 howitzer during African Lion 2011. (Photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Sean Worrell)

An M1 Abrams tank fires on a range in southern Morocco during African Lion 2011. During the exercise U.S. and Moroccan forces trained on different types of military training including command post, live fire, peacekeeping operations, disaster response, aerial refueling and low-level flight training. (Photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Sean Worrell)

Marines practice their team work while firing mortars in southern Morocco. African Lion is an exercise between the Kingdom of Morocco and the U.S. that involves more than 2,000 U.S. service members and approximately 900 members of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces. (Photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Sean Worrell)

Marines work on their marksmanship while deployed to southern Morocco in support of African Lion 2011. (Photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Sean Worrell)

A group of Marines work on their squad movement skills during African Lion 2011. During the exercise U.S. and Moroccan forces trained on different types of military training including command post, live fire, peacekeeping operations, disaster response, aerial refueling and low-level flight training. (Photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Sean Worrell)

Navy Seabees use a forklift to get to hard-to-reach places while building a hard shelter at the Cap Draa training area in southern Morocco. The shelter will be used for future African Lion exercises. African Lion is an exercise between the Kingdom of Morocco and the U.S. that involves more than 2,000 U.S. service members and approximately 900 members of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces. (Photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Sean Worrell)Navy Seabees use a forklift to get to hard-to-reach places while building a hard shelter at the Cap Draa training area in southern Morocco. The shelter will be used for future African Lion exercises. African Lion is an exercise between the Kingdom of Morocco and the U.S. that involves more than 2,000 U.S. service members and approximately 900 members of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces. (Photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Sean Worrell)

 


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