News: Tank destroyers!
Story by Sgt. 1st Class James Lally
JOINT BASE DIX-MCGUIRE-LAKEHURST, N.J. – Infantry soldiers from the Massachusetts Army National Guard fired high-explosive missiles during a training exercise here, March 21, 2014.
Soldiers from Company D, 1st Battalion, 181st Infantry Regiment trained with warheads packed with 74 pounds of C-4 plastic explosives so they could get live-fire training destroying tanks and other armored vehicles. The unit fired 24 tube-launched, optically-tracked, wireless-guided, missile weapon system (TOW 2B) at the M60 "Patton" Main Battle Tank and the M4 “Sherman” Medium Battle Tank.
The unit is an Infantry weapons company and their mission is to provide mobile heavy weapons and long range close combat missile fire to the Infantry battalion. The inherent versatility of the weapons company as part of the Infantry battalion makes it well suited to fight against unconventional enemies even in large-scale operations.
Explaining why the soldiers train with missiles, Capt. Michael P. Mondello, commander, Company D, 1st Battalion, 181st Infantry Regiment, Massachusetts Army National Guard, said: “When we deploy we use these weapons so it’s important that we can handle them safely, and hit what we aim at. We use them to destroy tanks and other armored vehicles mostly, but can also use them as bunker busters.”
Elaborating on how the missiles are used Mondello said, “We can fire the missile at a tank so it explodes on impact, or we can fire it over the tank so it detonates as it passes over its weakest point. That’s helpful when a tank is concealed and you can only see the turret.”
During the exercise Soldiers carried the TOW 2B to a Humvee, loaded the missile, and as a team they went through the process of identifying and destroying targets.
Talking about what it’s like to get paid to fire missiles, Pfc. Kevin Johnson, gunner, Company D, 1st Battalion, 181st Infantry Regiment, Massachusetts Army National Guard, said, “It’s a good time shooting these missiles and I’m one of the few people in the Army that gets to do it.”
The 1st Battalion, 181st Infantry Regiment, Massachusetts Army National Guard, is one of the four oldest organizations in the U.S. Army and was formed by legislative act of the Massachusetts Bay General Court on Dec. 13, 1636. Many of the 181st’s soldiers have earned the Combat Infantryman Badge in Afghanistan, so they have a lot to teach the newer soldiers about being Infantrymen. With ranges named after Revolutionary War battles like Lexington, and tanks named for generals who served in the Civil War or World War II, Joint Base Dix-McGuaire-Lakehurst provided a training environment steeped in history that reminds soldiers why training for armed conflict is so important.