When I realized today was time for Strip #51, I decided to do a tribute to my personal MOS: The 0351 Assaultman. It is kind of the odd-ball of the infantry; no one really knows what we do or how to properly employ us. As a result, we are often just turned into a rifle squad or divided to be machine-gunners (like my first deployment as a .50 gunner). Assaultman are actually quite handy, and all of them really are trained in demolitions.
I mention this because we actually had a combat engineer attachment with our battalion, all the way from Oki, when in all reality they could’ve saved the Marine Corps the cost of plane tickets and just entrusted the 0351’s with their demolition needs. Granted, perhaps we aren’t quite as deeply trained in the field as they are, but they were hardly used for that purpose anyway.
Assaultmen–or “Ass-men” as they can be known–are often given the stigma of being really smart and “nerdy” due to the higher GT score requirements to attain the MOS. A lot of the MOS training is equations relating to explosives and demolition formulas, most of which becomes forgotten in the monotony of the fleet. Regardless of how much flak we get for being useless though, everyone and their mother wants to see the SMAW in action.
To be quite blunt, I loved my MOS. I loved shooting the SMAW. Shooting the SMAW is one of the most exhilarating feelings I’ve ever experienced. The warmth of fire and flame engulfing your body, the dust and rocks swirling around you after the backblast explodes into the most powerful noise you’ve ever heard. The SMAW is a good time.
Unfortunately though, more often than not, the specificity of the MOS turns it obsolete according to the mission. In a non-kinetic environment, why do you need to blast a hole in the wall using an oval charge? Blow open a door with a linear, donut or water charge? The answer is simple, you don’t. As a result, the MOS is practically useless outside of a larger scale kinetic environment, thus making the 0351 a kind of jack of all trades in the infantry world. They usually pick up machine-gun skills, 0311 standards like proper patrolling and room clearing, and are often handed over to the Mortar teams to fill empty slots. It’s unfortunate, but makes them an all-round asset to the platoon when extra bodies are needed for just about anything.