VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Soldiers assigned to the U.S. Army Reserve’s 18th Field Hospital conducted their annual weapons qualification March 24, 2019, at the newly-renovated range at the State Military Reservation near Virginia Beach, Virginia. After training at other installations in the Hampton Roads area, the Fort Story-based 18th Field Hospital found SMR a perfect fit for their training needs.
“Range control here is very accommodating and is willing to bend over backward to make sure that we get what we need,” said Sgt. 1st Class Oh K. Hwan, supply sergeant for the 18th Field Hospital. “They do what they can to make sure we accomplish our mission.”
The range at SMR was built in the early 1900s, according to Master Sgt. Larry Waldron, installation operations noncommissioned officer for SMR.
“Over the years, it evolved to meet the needs of the military,” Waldron said. It currently operates as 25-meter, 20-lane static range capable of accommodating the rifle, pistol and shotgun. Recent upgrades include the addition of an officer-in-charge range platform, overhead shelter with the bleachers and storage facilities that house range equipment while also serving as a covered ammunition distribution point.
Around 70 Soldiers from the 18th Field Hospital cycle through the range to qualify and while not engaged there, they trained on weapon malfunctions, fighting positions and employing progressive levels of individual force when confronting hostile situations. This was the unit’s second time utilizing the range at SMR.
“Our goal is to provide a quality area for organizations to meet their training needs,” said Waldron.
While SMR is a Virginia National Guard installation, the training facilities there are often used by organizations including the U.S. Army and U.S. Army Reserve, the U.S. Navy, the Marine Corps, the U.S. Air Force, as well as federal, state and local law enforcement personnel and National Guard units from other states, according to Waldron. Increased use of SMR’s facilities by these organizations has helped to fund several recent renovations and upgrades, according to Sgt. Martell T. Cuffee, admin operations NCO for SMR.
“I am just happy the range guys set this up, because last time I was here, none of this was here,” said Hwan. “This base has made a lot of improvements since the last time I was here.”