JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. (5/12/2012) – Soldiers moved swiftly after the first round shot through the smoky area in preparation for the next.
A soldier assigned to Battery A, 1st Battalion, 377th Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Fires Brigade loads a round into the chamber for an M777 Howitzer May 3, 2012 during training at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. The unit participated in a two-day field training exercise in which they got a chance to sharpen their skills on the weapon system. Photo by Army Staff Sgt. Antwaun Parrish
Private 1st Class Brian Deverey has always wanted to be an artilleryman even before he joined the Army, and he gets pumped up every time he touches the weapon.
“Shooting this weapon reminds me of playing football,” said Deverey, a native of Overland Park, Kan. “Just as the excitement builds at a game before the touchdown, that's how I feel before the big boom!”
Deverey, along with Soldiers assigned to Battery A, 1st Battalion, 377th Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Fires Brigade conducted training on the M777 Howitzer, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, May 3rd and 4th.
Morale was high for this close-knit group of soldiers as they sang several songs while waiting to fire the weapon system including, Journey's “Don't Stop Believing.”
“Singing songs help us get the adrenaline pumping,” said Deverey.
The group of 10 Soldiers consisted of several ranks; amongst the group was the crew's chief Staff Sgt. Michael Ogburn. He provides guidance to the crew and ensures the accuracy and precision of each round fired.
“I have to know each position of the gun in order to guide the soldiers,” said Ogburn, a native of Atlanta.
Ogburn explained the integration process for new Soldiers who arrive to the unit from advanced individual training, and the feeling he gets knowing that he is training future leaders.
“When the new soldiers arrive to the unit, my job is to refresh their skills of what they learn in school and to teach them the unit's standards to support the mission,” said Ogburn a former infantryman. “I feel confident that I can provide my Soldiers the right information to one day take my place and successfully train their soldiers.”
Unlike Deverey, Pvt. Douglas Newlon didn't always want to be an artilleryman. But since going to school and being a part of the regiment, he has learned the importance of his job and now shares the same enthusiasm.
“When I was in AIT, a lot of the things that I learned weren't as clear as they are now,” said the Summersville, W. Va. native. “I'm not trying to pass a course here; I am doing my job, so the environment is not as stressful.”
Artillery rounds travel far distances, so everything has to be set exact for where each round will land. Before each round is fired, Ogburn checks the gunner sights (much like binoculars which are used to measure distance) to ensure the accuracy of his Soldiers.
Newlon explained that even though he learned how to use the gunner sight in school he was still unsure. But since being under the guidance of Ogburn, he is now confident enough to use the equipmet.
Newlon appreciates the fact that he works alongside veterans in his field who are competent and helpful.
“Its an amazing feeling when I pick up effective tips from the seniors, no matter how big or small,” said Newlon.
The soldiers fired lots of ammunition during the training continuing to enhance their unit's mission capability.
Artillerymen are also known as red legs a name that was given to them during the Civil War because they wore red stripes down the legs of their uniform pants. For new red legs such as Deverey and Newlon, having confident leaders to follow help keeps the pride of artillery flowing throughout the crew. Newlon made sure to end with a slogan that keeps him going each day.
“Red legs, always!”
By Army Staff Sgt. Antwaun Parrish
Provided through DVIDS
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