Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif. — Officer Chris Brunt, Costa Mesa Police Department, hasn’t been near a tank since his days as a Marine tanker more than 10 years ago.
With a little help from 1st Tank Battalion, Brunt got to temporarily relive his past, and bring a few of his fellow Costa Mesa officers along for the ride.
The group visited the unit’s tank ramp June 28, explored the massive battle vehicles and spent an afternoon with the men who bring the tanks to life.
“It’s always good to have people observe what Marine tankers do and the equipment the military is using today,” said Lance Cpl. Phillip Lim, gunner, 1st Tanks. “We showed them around, what the tank does, its capabilities and we had some good talks with them.”
The officers pulled up next to the M1A1 Abrams tank on their black and white motorcycles. In front of the tank stood a number of different types of rounds and a red sign with a list of facts about the tracked vehicle, but what drew the eyes of the officers was the giant barrel pointing out at them.
“This isn’t something that any of them have ever seen up close, except from TV,” Brunt said. “You can tell by the look on their faces, they’re really excited.”
Brunt was assigned to 1st Tanks in 1998 as a motor transport operator and spent the following two years at the Combat Center. Even with his own history with the battalion, he still held an air of excitement as he toured the tracked vehicle.
“You always miss it,” he said.
His Marine past was what sparked the idea of making the three-hour drive, Brunt said. The officers got in some riding time, and Brunt guessed it would give the rest of the police officers an experience they’ll never forget.
He was right.
“We were really excited to get out here and see the tanks,” said Officer David Makiyama, CMPD. “They’re much bigger than I expected. You’re getting the presentation and you see the tank. But then you get on, and you’re like, ‘Wow.’”
The men toured the tanks and asked the Marines questions about the vehicles and the Marines’ experiences with them.
“They’re a really good group of people, very professional,” Lim said. “We got to show our trade, and in exchange they showed us what they use, too.”
The day ended with the Marines getting to try out some of the officers’ equipment. They sat on the motorcycles to get a feel of the officer’s life and even tried out the radar gun, pointing it at cars traveling on Del Valle Road and checking their speeds.
As the visit drew to an end, the group expressed hopes of future visits between the tankers and the CMPD officers.