News: Extending our reach while making history
Story by 1st Lt. Vanessa Macekura
ZABUL PROVINCE, Afghanistan - For most U.S. Army units across Afghanistan, Jan. 18, 2013, was an ordinary day, for one Field Artillery gun platoon in Regional Command-South, it was a day that history was made.
After an Improvised Explosive Device manufacturing facility was cleared by an Explosive Ordinance Disposal Team, Combined Task Force Raider’s leadership decided it would be best to use artillery assets to destroy the building on the compound. Under the authority of CTF-Raider, 2nd Platoon, Alpha Battery, 1-41 Field Artillery, Third Infantry Division, an M777A2 155mm towed howitzer platoon was put on standby for a fire mission.
Sgt. Matthew Perry, a howitzer section chief, assigned to 2nd platoon, A. Battery, 1-41FA, 3ID, CTF-Raider recalled the mission as if it were yesterday, “We received a call about an Excalibur mission, but it was put on hold so we had one round ready to go.” After that round went downrange the team was asked to provide three more Excalibur rounds. “All the calls for fire came down separate, everyone got really excited because it was a charge five,” the largest possible charge to fire an Excalibur round from an M777A2, Perry, an Indianapolis, In. native added.
The Excalibur is a 155mm Precision Guided Extended Range Artillery Projectile with a range of more than 30 kilometers and is a type of fire-and-forget smart ammunition. It provides army units the capability to attack all three key target sets, soft and armored vehicles, and reinforced bunkers with accuracy and effectiveness.
This Excalibur mission was a rare opportunity for anyone in today’s army, according to Staff Sgt. Christopher Trimmer, the fire direction center section chief for 2nd platoon, A. Battery, 1-41FA, 3ID, CTF-R. “It is rare to be able to shoot one Excalibur round let alone four of them in combat operations. It was a good feeling knowing that we were able to support the brigade’s mission by shooting at the target, seeing as it takes a lot of support and approval from the higher command groups to even shoot the Excalibur round,” add Trimmer, a North Port, Fl., native.
The platoon leader, 1Lt. Tim Murray, of Philadelphia, added, “This is a hallmark- type moment and a good culminating event of three to four days of firing and hard work.” Once it was done we just got back to work, Murray also added.