Colorado Guardsmen Train Hard At Fort Hood
(May 11, 2009)
Spc. Josh Keadle celebrates his 21st birthday April 25, 2009, at a Fort Hood range in Texas with his battery commander, Capt. Ashkan Angha, making him do 21 pushups while saying, “Happy Birthday.” Both Ashkan and Keadle laughed about it. “It was the most memorable thing about my 21st,” Keadle said laughing.
| ||FORT HOOD, Texas (April 25, 2009)|
More than 60 Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 157th Field Artillery, Colorado Army National Guard conducted day and night fire with the M240B Medium Machine Gun here April 25, 2009.
The battalion, which conducted a large majority of its required weapons training at Fort Carson, Colo., prior to moving to Fort Hood, only had a few Soldiers needing to qualify on the machine gun.
“All the weapons we train with, we are deploying with in theater,” said Staff Sgt. Clifford Fraipont, a resident of Fountain, Colo., who was appointed the noncommissioned officer in charge at the range.
My main responsibility is accountability of all Soldiers at the range, ensuring they successfully complete the training safely, he said.
|Wake up for Soldiers heading out to the range is typically early – around 4 a.m., and, they are expected to remain at the range until the last Soldier firing is done. This range was operational for approximately 17 hours.|
|Once the range is operational, the Soldiers were briefed, gathered their gear and were assigned firing lines. Although it's important for Soldiers to perform safe acts on the range, it's not all serious business for the entire 17 hours.|
One Soldier at the range, Spc. Josh Keadle of Thornton, Colo., of Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, was celebrating his 21st birthday. He was among the Soldiers required to train with the machine gun. Since celebrating his birthday didn't allow for cake or a party, his commander decided to help him celebrate in another – more Army – way.
“We had him do 21 pushups while saying ‘happy birthday' for each one performed,” laughed Capt. Ashkan Angha, his battery commander.
“It was terrific,” Keadle said sarcastically. “It's not as fun as being at home but it was the most memorable thing about my 21st here,” he said laughing.
At the range, the Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 157th Field Artillery were conducting day and night fire and some select Soldiers had to qualify while others performed familiarization fire.
“The Soldiers selected to qualify on the machine gun will have that
Spc. Ben Harbour of Vancouver, Wash., (left) and Spc. Josh Keadle of Thornton, Colo., (right) get their M240B medium machine gun ready for night fire at a Fort Hood range April 25, 2009. Harbour looks down range for targets through his optics, while Keadle checks the rounds to ensure they are all connected. Both Soldiers are assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 157th Field Artillery, Colorado Army National Guard based in Colorado Springs, Colo.
|weapon assigned to them in Iraq, so we want them to have the highest proficiency with the weapon,” said Angha.|
|Soldiers also benefited from the optics on the weapon system, which allowed the Soldiers to see the targets more clearly under the dark Texas night sky.|
In groups of two, one gunner and one assistant gunner, the Soldiers approached the firing line, set up their gear, checked the sights and familiarized themselves with the targets that range control popped up so they could identify them before they began firing – but this time in the dark.
Soldiers assigned to 3rd Battalion, 157th Field Artillery, Colorado Army National Guard light up the range with tracer rounds as they fire the M240B medium machine gun with the help of night optics at Fort Hood, Texas, April 25, 2009. The battalion, which arrived at their mobilization station April 18 for additional mobilization training, is deploying this summer in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
| ||Soldiers shot off five to seven round bursts; tracers illuminated the dark range.|
Around midnight the Soldiers headed back to their barracks to unload their gear and catch some sleep before the next training iteration began the following day.
“Both the mobilization training and deployment requires sacrifices from our Soldiers and families,” said Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Al Morris. “However, these sacrifices are essential for preparing our troops to deploy, conduct their required
|missions and all return home safely to their loved ones.”|
The battalion is scheduled to deploy to Iraq at the culmination of their training at Fort Hood this summer.
Article and photos by Army SSgt Liesl Marelli
Public Affairs NCO
3rd Battalion, 157th Field Artillery, Colorado Army National Guard
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