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    3/12 demonstrates the artillery firing process

    3/12 demonstrates the artillery firing process

    Photo By Sgt. Erik Brooks | Lance Cpl. Brandon A. Russ pulls a lanyard to fire an M777 howitzer during live-fire...... read more read more



    Story by Lance Cpl. Erik Brooks 

    III Marine Expeditionary Force   

    CAMP FUJI, Japan - Behind every 155mm round that rains down in an impact area, there are a number of Marines whose hard work and proficiency ensure those rounds will be on target and on time.

    The Marines from 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force Marines took part in Artillery Relocation Training Program 11-3 here from Nov. 10-22.

    The training provided an inside look at how artillery rounds go from being inanimate objects lying on ammunition crates to accurate and effective fire support for maneuver units in combat.

    During ARTP 11-3, Marines fired more than 2000 155mm rounds safely and accurately over the course of 10 live-fire days, said Staff Sgt. Robert L. McCoy II, the battery gunnery sergeant for Hotel.

    More impressive than sheer numbers, however, is understanding the manpower and effort that goes into getting a 155mm round from an ammunition crate to the impact zone.

    The firing process starts when forward observers call in fire missions, according to McCoy.

    “The mission and number of rounds fired are determined by the forward observers,” said McCoy. “It is their job to call back to the Fire Direction Center to begin executing the missions.”

    At the FDC, Marines take the mission from the forward observers, conduct computational solutions based on weather, ammunition and other factors, and relay this information to the gun sections, which carry out the actual firing.

    “The FDC tells us the range, number of rounds and direction of fire for each mission,” said Sgt. Daniel B. Goodman, a gun section leader for Hotel. “After getting all the information we need, we execute the mission.”

    Firing the howitzer is a nine-step process, McCoy said. First, the section leader receives the mission from the FDC and relays the mission to everyone on the gun section. Immediately, all elements of the gun section jump into action. The gunner moves the gun horizontally to find the exact location of the target in a process called deflection while simultaneously the assistant gunner moves the gun vertically for proper angle and depth, referred to as adjusting the quadrant.

    Once the howitzer is properly positioned, a Marine primes the gun and verifies the powder load. Additionally, two Marines take 155mm rounds and load them into the gun. After the rounds are seated and the powder is loaded, the breach is closed.

    After the gun section chief verifies all information is correct and the gun is properly loaded, he gives the call to fire. Upon the call, a Marine pulls a lanyard to fire the round.

    “This process is repeated until the mission is complete,” said Goodman.

    The battery consists of six guns, said McCoy. Exercises like ARTP 11-3 enhance each battery’s ability to support fire missions from ground units.

    “We conduct these missions to maintain efficiency and proficiency,” said McCoy. “Having a fast artillery battery is important in order to provide continuous fire support to ground units.”

    According to Goodman, a good gun section comes from motivation, camaraderie and dedication.

    “Being motivated to be a fast gun section is the key to success,” said Goodman. “If the Marines are excited to go out and fire, then all will run smoothly.”

    Artillery in the Marine Corps is crucial to the success and safety of infantry units, said McCoy.

    “Artillery is the infantry’s only support in all types of weather,” McCoy said. “Without us, grunts wouldn’t get crucial fire support when they most need it.”

    Those grunts can rely on the hard work of all Marines involved in the artillery firing process, who ensure the 155mm rounds will be where they need to be, when they need to be there.



    Date Taken: 11.22.2011
    Date Posted: 11.22.2011 02:04
    Story ID: 80368

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