News: Triple seven crews certify for live fire
Story by Spc. William Howard
FORT CARSON, Colo.—Soldiers spill out of the back of a Light Medium Tactical Vehicle to quickly emplace a M777A2 howitzer during the C Battery, 2nd Battalion, 12th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, crew certifications, June 9.
The howitzer crews were evaluated on 23 essential tasks, including; deliberate occupation, preventive maintenance checks and services, priority targets and fire missions, over the course of the three-day event to become certified on the M777A2 howitzer.
“We’re looking for proper crew drills and any safety issues that may arise before they conduct a live fire,” said Sgt. 1st Class Scott Thrasher, platoon sergeant, A Battery, 2nd Bn., 12th FA Reg., 1st SBCT, 4th Inf. Div., who evaluated one of the crews during their certification.
Recently formed in March, C Battery is new to the battalion and the Soldiers are eager to prove themselves as the “new guys”.
“We’ve been in the field for multiple weeks leading up to this,” said 1st Lt. Thomas Pierson, platoon leader, C Battery, 2nd Bn., 12th FA Reg., 1st SBCT, 4th Inf. Div. “These guys went through 10 days of operator new equipment training to learn the basics of the guns and their chiefs are all veterans on the triple sevens.”
A crew chief leads the members of a howitzer crew and each Soldier is responsible for a specific role. C Battery crew chiefs ensure that everyone is fully capable to handle any task.
“My two chiefs train each guy on each position so everyone is versatile,” said Pierson. “If anyone was to go down the next guy could jump up and take his position.”
Even though the battery is new to the battalion, its leaders offer a wealth of experience on the M777A2 howitzer to the Soldiers just out of basic training.
“We have a pretty high speed chief who has a lot of knowledge on crew drills,” said Sgt. Jesse Conkey, howitzer gunner, C Battery, 2nd Bn., 12th FA Reg., 1st SBCT, 4th Inf. Div. “You build them from the ground up, teach them the right way and then go on from there.”
Once each crew certifies on their M777A2 howitzer, they will be permitted to conduct day and night live fire missions.
“These guys get excited about every time we come out to the field because this is what we train for,” said Conkey, a native of Saint Bonifacius, Minn. “Being able to see our job live is pretty fun.”