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    4-319th AFAR honors lineage, fallen heroes in ‘King’s Crucible’


    Photo By Sgt. Christopher Stewart | U.S. Army Paratroopers from 4th Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment,...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. Christopher Stewart 

    7th Army Training Command

    A Soldier grimaces from the nagging pain. In step with the guy next to him, bearing through the pressure they feel in their neck. Their back. Their knees, and feet. At least 35 pounds of gear clasped to them, traveling meter by meter, kilometer after kilometer. Further complicating matters, a solid wooden beam rests between the back of their necks and the tops of their rucks, connected the Soldiers on either side. The pair look down towards their feet at the iced-over road so as to pay careful attention not to slip. Getting the signal to turn onto another road, they look up to see a white, icy incline beckoning them. Unwelcomed yet unavoidable, the Soldiers prepare themselves for the steep gradient ahead.

    It’s the end of January in Grafenwoehr, Germany, and the 4th Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, is conducting the King’s Crucible exercise during operation Bayonet Bodyguard II.

    “Everything that we’re doing today is tied to our lineage,” said Capt. Vincent Christiano, the assistant operations officer in 4-319th AFAR.

    Three teams of eight Sky Soldiers participated in the King’s Crucible, which is structured as a series of challenges representing key, chronological chapters in the 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment and the 173rd Airborne Brigade’s history. The crucible’s intent is to galvanize leaders with the unit’s legacy as they advance through the demands of the day.

    The first objective of the crucible is to conduct an airborne operation which represents the constitution of the battery.

    During this event, paratroopers from other batteries of 173rd Airborne Brigade also jumped from a CH-47 Chinook helicopter with British, German and Spanish forces, receiving their foreign jump wings.

    “With our allies here, it’s the best opportunity to build interoperability,” said Maj. Michael Munroe, the battalion operations officer for 4-319th, and the airborne commander for the rotary wing jump.

    The next objective paratroopers tackled was a workout of the day to honor fallen heroes from the unit.

    Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Ivey, the acting first sergeant of Bravo Battery, 4-319th AFAR knew one of the four paratroopers the crucible honored.
    1st Lt. Stephan C. Prasnicki was killed in action June 27, 2012, on his third day in Afghanistan by an enemy improvised explosive device.

    “It was good to hear the cadre tell the stories of the fallen soldiers,” he said. “I remember him just as they were describing him, a true leader.”

    After the workout, the crucible called on the paratroopers to operate the M777A2 155mm Howitzer and conduct dry fires, representing the 319th AFAR’s involvement in World War I.

    Afterwards, paratroopers conducted a M119A3 Howitzer pull to receive a fire mission, then conducted a hip shoot, or hurried fires after movement. This was symbolic of a unit re-designation and unit actions in Europe through World War II.

    The following event was the commander’s challenge, where each team rucked through the Grafenwoehr Training Area with at least 35 pounds of gear on while also transporting a pair of wheels, a solid wooden beam, and an ammo crate. These items reference the unit’s actions taken during the Battle of Corregidor in 1945 in the Pacific theatre.

    Following the commander’s challenge, a leadership reaction course was held in a tribute to the role in Vietnam, and then, an obstacle course to acknowledge the role in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

    The last challenge was the M998 HMMWV push to the local German Kantina, representing where the unit is now.

    “The most important thing I did today was the commander’s challenge,” said Staff Sgt. Alexander Voyce, the medical platoon sergeant for 4-319th AFAR. “If we can bring this back to our platoons, it will bring us closer together and feel more like a team.”

    During every event, cadre and senior leaders were with the Soldiers to teach the unit’s heritage.

    “What is it that most inspires you?” asked Col. James Bartholomees III, commander of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, addressing his Sky Soldiers between events. “Think about that, because that inspiration is the closest thing that we can have in preparation for combat.”



    Date Taken: 01.30.2019
    Date Posted: 02.11.2019 11:04
    Story ID: 310297
    Location: GRAFENWOEHR, BY, DE 

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