October 21st 2015

From wildlife conservation to live firing

A Royal Marines Reservist has spent three weeks in the Mojave Desert taking part in a live firing exercise.

Captain Tom Winterton, aged 27, trains with the Nottingham detachment of the Royal Marines Reserve (RMR) and travelled to the Twentynine Palms camp in California under Exercise Black Alligator where he worked alongside both regular Royal Marines, and American and Dutch Marines.

Tom studies Wildlife Conservation at Nottingham Trent University alongside his training and told of how the trip was a change from his everyday life, despite a previous military career as a regular Royal Marine.

Tom explained: “I joined the RMR after leaving the regulars because I wanted to try something new and follow my love of the natural world. Having spent time as a Training Officer at the Jungle Warfare School in Brunei I worked closely with the environmental department and decided that I wanted to make a career in the outdoors while staying involved with the military environment.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my time on exercise in the Mojave Desert as I was able to develop my knowledge of working in complex terrain like mountain and desert areas. It was a great feeling to have a sense of camaraderie with people I had not met before, as well as experiencing the outdoors.”

Tom added that the exercise saw him use a wealth of weapons as well as having the chance to plan and carry out operations in a purpose-built replica town. He said: “I had the chance to use troop and support weapons such as heavy machine guns, grenade machine guns, mortars, snipers, and anti-tank weapons which was a great experience and every day was spent on live firing ranges where up to 100 men would fire both day and night.

Tom added: “Our American counterparts supported the exercises with fast air and attack helicopters which I had never had the chance to work with before, and it was a truly once in a lifetime experience as a Reservist to be able to work with new equipment that you would never get the chance to use on training weekends or at the detachment.

“My RMR commitments are always supported by my family which is a great comfort when I spend time away from them and I was lucky enough to work alongside my former colleagues and friends from my time as a regular Royal Marine which made the trip all the more valuable as a training experience.”

Roles available in the RMR are open to new recruits between the ages of 17 and 32 years, however, Ex-Regular Royal Marines can join the RMR over the age of 32.

To learn more about joining the RMR visit: 

"It was a great feeling to have a sense of camaraderie with people I had not met before, as well as experiencing the outdoors.”