News: 'Proud Americans' fire artillery in Iraq
Story by Sgt. Shantelle Campbell
TIKRIT, Iraq – On a clear and sunny day in northern Iraq, Soldiers of Bravo Battery, 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, out of Fort Riley, Kan., pounded the ground with high-explosive, 105mm artillery rounds during M119 Howitzer crew certifications, May 28 at Contingency Operating Base Speicher.
This was the second time the 'Proud Americans' battalion fired artillery in a combat zone since Vietnam. The first time was when Soldiers of Alpha Battery, 2-32 FAR sent rounds downrange, May 21, for their crew certifications.
Command Sgt. Maj. Taylor Poindexter, the top noncommissioned officer of 2-32 FAR, said the firing of the first round served as a validation for his noncommissioned officers and the hard work and dedication they put into preparing their crews for that moment.
"When that first round goes downrange everything that chief said (during training) comes to truth," he said. "He validates himself, not only as a Howitzer section chief, but also as an NCO that those Soldiers say, 'Hey, look, he told us we were going to do this and now we're here.' It's pretty cool, when you look at it like that."
"I've been an artilleryman for a long time and this is the first time I've ever fired rounds in a combat zone," said Sgt. Matthew Whiting, a section chief with Bravo Battery, who is currently on his third deployment to Iraq.
For each of his deployments, Whiting said that he's always done the job of an infantryman and says it feels good to do the job of an artilleryman again.
"It's kind of the same as firing at Fort Riley because we're firing in an impact zone, we're not putting rounds on a target," said the Blue Rapids, Kan., native. "We're not doing a suppression mission [or] counter-fire mission, we're coming out here to [fire] these rounds, but this is what I do. This is my bread and butter."
Poindexter said he is proud of how his Soldiers have adapted to and fulfilled their mission in Iraq. He believes that in addition to serving as validation for his NCOs, his unit firing artillery also proved the strength and ability of his 'Proud Americans.'
"We have now proved that there is nothing that this battalion can't do," said Poindexter. "We came over here and did a mission that is not our core mission. We relieved an infantry battalion, and we relieved the BSTB of their job which expanded our sector. And all during the same time of conducting our patrols and accomplishing our mission in our sector, we were able to train and shoot artillery at the same time. So in my mind, there is nothing that the brigade or battalion commander can't ask 2-32 to do that we can't accomplish."