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    TOW missile range at Joint Readiness Training Center

    TOW missile range at Joint Readiness Training Center

    Photo By Sgt. Victor Ayala | The world as seen through the barrel of a TOW missile launcher. Soldiers with 4th...... read more read more

    An infantryman's long education isn't over when he graduates from his One Station Unit Training in Fort Benning, Ga. From the high-flying Airborne and Air Assault infantry to the hard-hitting Stryker and Heavy Infantry, there is a multitude of special skills unique to certain units. Once he arrives to his unit, a new infantryman must learn a whole new set of skills in addition to the foundation he developed in basic training.

    For Radcliff, Ky., native, Pvt. Corey Fowler of F Company, 52nd Infantry Regiment, an unconventional Stryker infantry unit trained and outfitted for anti-armor combat, the continued education took form in the shape of a training range at the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division's rotation through Fort Polk's Joint Readiness Training Center on June 17.

    The company fired tube-launched, optically-tracked, wire-guided missiles from massive launchers installed onto their Stryker vehicles. The TOW missiles stand about five feet high and must be loaded into the launcher by hand, a job Fowler performed for the first time during the exercise.

    "Would you believe I'd never done that before today?" he asked, after hefting a TOW missile over his head and guiding it expertly into the launching tube mounted to the top of a Stryker.

    Fowler arrived to the unit in April and, having only two months in, is the newest member of the small anti-armor company. Where the typical infantry company has nearly 120 Soldiers, F Co., has only 52, a result of the TOW missile launchers that take up so much room on the vehicle. Each TOW-equipped Stryker can carry a four-man team. Fowler's platoon, 1st Platoon, currently has 11 Soldiers.

    Fowler said the size of the unit has had only positive effects on the team and his training as an infantryman. The small number of personnel has required each Soldier to carry his own weight and then some. It's also contributed to the high level of trust and friendship that Fowler believes makes the unit strong.

    "I love everybody in the platoon. We're real small, but we work tight. We have to," Fowler said, "Ask anybody on my team to do anything. We all know each other's jobs and are ready for anything."

    The high expectation of him from the unit and steep learning curve have also given Fowler the rapid train-up he needs for the brigade's upcoming deployment to Iraq in the fall. Being his first deployment, he'll need all the training he can get, and his unit has been giving it to him.

    "This is my first day loading the TOW and tomorrow they'll start me on driver's training. You really have to learn fast here," Fowler said. "But it's good for you."

    Even with new blood in the platoon, Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Gomez, platoon sergeant for 1st Platoon, F Co., is confident in the unit's ability to perform at full capacity in Iraq.

    "We have a pretty seasoned crew. With the training we've done in the 15 months since our last deployment, everybody is up on their skills," said Gomez.

    With his education under way, Fowler is confident, not only about the upcoming deployment or his future with the unit, but his choice to enlist as an infantryman.

    "I always new, ever since I was a kid, that I was going to be in the Army," Fowler said. "And I always knew it would be as an infantryman."



    Date Taken: 06.20.2009
    Date Posted: 06.20.2009 11:57
    Story ID: 35398
    Location: US

    Web Views: 832
    Downloads: 731