FORT SILL, Okla. (Feb. 5, 2015) — Thirty-nine Soldiers were pinned with the field artillery branch insignia as they became the Army’s newest cannon crewmembers, or military occupational specialty 13B, Jan. 30, in Bldg. 2437 here.
The Soldiers of C Battery, 1st Battalion, 78th Field Artillery, Class No. 10-15 earned the right to wear the insignia after completing the 5.5-week course as they became proficient in one of three howitzers: 105mm, 155mm or the self-propelled 155mm.
“They were a very hardworking class,” said Sgt. 1st Class Alexander Kirsch, Advanced Individual Training platoon sergeant. who served as the class administrator and logistician.
The battery graduates roughly 1,000 cannon crewmembers per year, Kirsch said. This class consisted of 22 National Guard Soldiers and 17 active-duty Soldiers.
Students usually knows what unit they will be assigned to in the first or second week of class, and so they will learn the howitzer piece of their unit, whether it be a M119A3 105mm towed howitzer, M777A2 155mm towed howitzer or M109A6 self-propelled howitzer, Kirsch said.
In his invocation, student Pvt. Damian Nunley said: “Lord, I pray that when we see an army rise against us you make our hearts and minds as strong as steel.”
Retired Col. Steven Arntz was the speaker. He was a career field artilleryman, and served as the 75th Field Artillery Brigade commander here from 1993-95.
Arntz provided the new cannoneers with advice.
“Stick with the training no matter how repetitious, sometimes how boring, no matter how cold or tired or stressed you are. Continue with the training because your life and the lives of others depend on the training,” said Arntz, who is president of a local defense contractor.
Field artillery works as a team and teamwork is the glue that makes it the “King of Battle,” Arntz said.
“Every member must know and do his part if ‘King’ is to be successful,” he said.
No matter how accurate the targets the forward observers (FO) send, no matter how precise the calculations made by the fire direction center (FDC) — it means nothing if the cannoneers’ gunfire is not effective and efficient, he said.
Trust is a must in the profession of arms, said Arntz, who retired in 1998, after a 26-year Army career. Cannoneers trust the FOs and FDCs and conversely they trust the gun crews.
“Perhaps of equal if not more importance are the infantrymen — the Soldiers on the front lines who rely upon you to deliver the devastating steel on target 24/7,” Arntz said.
Afterward, Arntz said today’s field artillerymen are very professional and probably have a greater aptitude than Soldiers in the past because of the Army’s stiffer entrance requirements.
“[Still] the 13 bravo basic rudimentary skills set haven’t changed. You still have to know the howitzer and put it in place,” he said.
He said it was about time the 13B MOS opened to women.
“Because of the technological changes in field artillery there are all kinds of opportunities for females,” said Arntz. “Were not shooting 200-pound projectiles any more, they’re 90 pounds and 50 pounds, so there’s certainly room for them to do that if they have the skills.
“And, the rockets and missiles we use nowadays, anyone can do it no matter what gender you are, so they (women) can be a force multiplier,” he said.
During the ceremony, Pfc. Enrique Gonzalez was recognized as the distinguished honor graduate, and for achieving the high Army Physical Fitness Test score.
Two honor graduates were commended for demonstrating the highest proficiency on their respective howitzers: Pvt. Michael Deem on the M777A2, and Pvt. Kenton Roman on the M119A3. And, students Pfc. Timothy Garris and Pvt. Adrian Lopez were promoted during the ceremony.
The ceremony concluded with the class reciting “The Soldier’s Creed” along with every Soldier present at the ceremony joining the graduates to sing “The Army Song.”