"Fastest Gunner in the World"
Is Cpl. Jordan Aaron Summerton the fastest human to fire an 81 mm. mortar? Cpl. Winston Spires, a mortarman with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, boldly makes the case as he looks at his brother-in-law with admiration.
“Going off of what we’ve completed versus what other platoons have completed, we’re the most efficient mortar platoon in the Marine Corps,” said Spires. “And if that’s the case, that means -- with him being the fastest gunner in the platoon -- he is the most efficient gunner in the Marine Corps. And since he’s in the Marine Corps, that makes him the fastest gunner in the world,” said Spires.
OK, maybe Spires is a little biased. He first met Summerton at the Military Entrance Processing Station in South Carolina, and since then, they’ve been inseparable. They were from the same hometown of Colombia, South Carolina, and share very similar personalities. They say they can look at each other and instantly know what the other is thinking. Summerton married Spires’ sister, Rachel Summerton, and their bond grew even stronger. They were put in the same mortar platoon from the beginning, and they say the harsh times are made easier because they have each other.
During their time at the School of Infantry, Summerton and Spires had to go through the “gunner’s exam”. During the exam, the gunner has to adjust the gun in less than 60 seconds to pass.
Summerton did it in eight.
He said this provides competition for the platoon, especially gunners.
“I’ve had a bunch of new guys come here and say, ‘I want to be like you. How do you get that fast?’ or they say, ‘I want to be faster than you,’ which of course I encourage,” said Summerton.
After hearing he was getting deployed to Okinawa, Japan, for six months through the unit deployment program, 20-year-old Summerton felt both excited and saddened. Summerton said he heard good things about the beautiful, tropical island but was going to miss his wife and one-week-old daughter, Emma. He also said his family understands that what the Marines are doing half-way across the world is bigger than themselves.
Under the UDP, 2nd Bn., 2nd Marines traveled from Okinawa to the Philippines, mainland Japan and the Republic of Korea to train closely with other countries’ militaries. Summerton said he enjoyed this deployment significantly more than his last one to Romania and Bulgaria because of the warmer Pacific weather and the more diverse training opportunities.
Cpl. Brian M. Welsh, Summerton’s section leader, said this deployment gave the Marines the opportunity to bring home new knowledge and experiences, and added that he’s glad Summerton is part of his team. Being the gunner is an extremely important job because messing up even a little bit puts the lives of the riflemen Marines downrange in danger, said Welsh.
“I’ve been around other units and trained with other Marines,” said Walsh, a Weymouth, Massachusetts, native. “I’ve been to advanced mortars course, and I’ve seen what the Marine Corps has to offer, and I would say he’s at the top when it comes to overall efficiency in gunning, especially speed.”
Summerton said he’s gained a lot personally from experiencing the culture in the countries he went to. He particularly enjoyed exploring the food and lifestyle of the Philippines.
“This deployment has honestly been better than I expected,” said Summerton. “We’ve gone to more places than I thought we would and done more things that have made it go by a lot faster.”
Summerton advises the unit replacing them in Okinawa, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, to take the deployment seriously and take advantage of the learning experiences they are given.
“We serve a purpose here and I feel like they should wake up every day knowing that they are here for a reason,” said Summerton. “They are serving their country in the best of ways. Just stay positive and stay motivated.”