News: Training tomorrow’s leaders today
Story by Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Smith
JOINT ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska - Air Force cadets with the Ben Eielson Junior and Senior High School Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps visited artillerymen of Alpha Battery, 2nd Battalion, 377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, at a firing point on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Feb. 1, 2014, to learn how firing missions are conducted.
The cadets boarded a bus and traveled deep into the training area at JBER under ice-fog conditions to the firing point, where they were met by Alpha Battery’s commander, Capt. Phil Sakala.
Sakala hosted a tour of the firing point with stops at a certification lane, the fire direction center and the gun line.
Cadets watched as a field artillery team quickly dismounted a Humvee transporting a 105mm howitzer and readied the gun for fire.
The cadets also learned how much math is involved in targeting. They watched as the Spartan Steel Battalion’s artillerymen at the fire direction center received coordinates from forward observers and computed the firing data into range and trajectory information before sending it to the gun line.
A run-through of procedures at the gun line gave the cadets a real, first-hand experience into the inner-workings of an Army howitzer firing point position.
The cadets, JROTC instructors and paratroopers enjoyed spending time together as they toured the operation.
“I think it’s a great experience to see the possible next generation coming in to fill our ranks, and it’s even better when you have your young paratroopers able to teach their job positions and teach them in a competent way,” said Sakala. “It builds trust in what they are doing and it builds trust in me that my leaders on the ground are teaching it to the standard.”
“This reemphasizes that, ‘Hey, we’re a good artillery unit and we are only going to get better.’”
“It makes you feel pretty good to know they are being trained for deployments,” said Clabe Parson, a cadet who is the executive officer in Eielson’s JROTC program. “I want to join the military, so this gives me a good feel on all of the pieces and parts that build up the military, and each and everything that they do, and how there are all different kinds of jobs.”
Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Paul B. Brodale, a JROTC instructor at Eielson, said “This is great because it gives them [cadets] a broader picture of some of the things they could be doing when they get out of high school.”
Brodale added, “I’m hoping this makes them feel proud of their country and maybe gives them an idea of some of the things they can do to support their country, and maybe, ultimately, step forward and help defend the country.”
The JROTC program at Ben Eielson Jr./Sr. High School sponsors trips like this one every year to help build camaraderie and esprit-de-corps among its cadets.