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U.S. and Kiwi Gunners Work Together During Lightning Whaitiri
by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Armando Limon - October 13, 2015

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U.S. and New Zealand artillery Soldiers shared their experience and knowledge during the multi-week Lightning Whaitiri exercise on Oahu and Hawaii islands Sept. 5-23, 2015.

Soldiers with Bravo Battery, 3rd Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, trained with the 163 Battery, 16 Field Regiment, Royal New Zealand Artillery, here, and at Wheeler Army Airfield and at Pohakuloa Training Area on the island of Hawaii.

U.S. Soldiers with Bravo Battery, 3rd Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment and New Zealander’s with 163rd Battery, 16th Field Regiment, Royal New Zealand Artillery, standing together at Wheeler Army Air Field, Hawaii, Sept. 17, 2015. The soldiers trained together in a mixed artillery unit during the Lightning Whaitiri exercise. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Armando R. Limon, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division)
U.S. Soldiers with Bravo Battery, 3rd Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment and New Zealander's with 163rd Battery, 16th Field Regiment, Royal New Zealand Artillery, standing together at Wheeler Army Air Field, Hawaii, Sept. 17, 2015. The soldiers trained together in a mixed artillery unit during the Lightning Whaitiri exercise. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Armando R. Limon, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division)

Maj. Sam Bayley, commander, 163 Battery, explained gunners from both nations conducted day and night live-fire exercises, cultural immersion, and sling and cold load operations during the exercise.

“Since we have arrived, we have conducted five-day, live-firing exercise, where we integrated the New Zealanders with the American crews, so each detachment had a mix of New Zealanders and Americans,” Bayley said.

At total, 57 New Zealand soldiers trained with Bravo Battery.

“We certified the Kiwi gun detachment to the standard that is required for the U.S. Army,” Bayley said.

Capt. Richie Appleton, battery captain, 163 Battery, found there were similarities, but differences in training and practice with artillery. The overall experience was positive between both nations.

“It's been good for our soldiers to see how the U.S. Army artillery operates,” Appleton said. “This increases our interoperability.”

U.S. troops taught the New Zealanders how to properly cold load an M119A3 105 mm howitzer into a Chinook helicopter and then rapidly remove it at WAAF, Sept. 17.

“Today is rehearsals in preparation for our air assault to PTA on Friday,” said Capt. Tom Shepherd, commander, Battery B.

The exercise at PTA is a culmination of efforts between both nations to show that the training paid off.

“We're going to belly-load two M119A3s, conduct a raid where the bird will land,” Appleton said. “We'll load the gun off, fire rounds and wheel the gun back on to the bird to a tactical location.”

Gunner Daniel Ousey, 163 Battery, explained his cold load training at Wheeler prior to going to PTA.

“Rigging up the guns and seeing how it's done from the other side like the air assaults,” Ousey said. “We'll be rigging them up, chucking them on the helicopters and getting used to how it is done going up and down.”

He found his own experience with Battery B and in Hawaii downright enjoyable.

“I think it's awesome,” he said. “It's good to see how it's done differently and the change of scenery. It is beautiful here.”

Spc. Ramon Huerta, field artillery automated tactical data systems specialist, Bravo Battery, said his own experience with the Kiwi gunners was enjoyable too.

“It's a good experience,” Huerta said. “It's good learning how they train compared to what we do.”

By U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Armando Limon
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2015

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