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    Fire Mission: 'Black Lion' mortar section makes it rain

    Fire Mission: 'Black Lion' mortar section makes it rain

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Nicolas Morales | ools of the trade for a mortarman. These 120mm mortars are on the ready line as...... read more read more

    PAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan (August 17, 2012) - Forward Operating Base Tillman is in a valley surrounded by the mountain ranges bordering Pakistan. This remote FOB has a strategic stronghold in the area of operations of Company B, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. Most of the time at higher levels of command one loses sight of what these soldiers on the line go through; however, these young men are doing great things.

    Arriving at FOB Tillman to embed with Bravo 1-28 “Black Lion” mortar section, one has the understanding that indirect fire is an everyday occurrence.

    The mood in the section is light and humorous. In their downtime, they play video games, and tell stories of back home, but this can change in an instant. As soon as they hear the call over the radio, it’s game on.

    Sgt. Joshua Coss, a 22 year-old squad leader in the mortar section and native of Chicago, gives out orders to the team, and they without hesitation follow them to the “T”.

    Pfc. Philip Dedionisio, a native of Denver, along with Pfc. Shane Miller, a Dallas native, and Spc. Jonathan Schueman a native of Carol Stream, Ill., begin prepping 120mm mortar rounds in the “pit” right outside their office area.

    Dedionisio says the things he likes most about being a mortarman is experiencing different things out here in Afghanistan.

    “We’re similar to artillery in certain ways and similar to infantrymen though we’re still in the infantry branch. Artillery never get to leave the FOB, but we do. We get to set up our guns while on patrol and do things that very few people get to do,” said Dedionisio.

    Dedionisio said while he focused on his mission here in Afghanistan, he’s also focused on his family back home. He and his wife Christina are expecting their second son any day now.

    “I would like to tell my wife and sons that I love them and miss them,” he said.

    Despite being actively engaged daily with fire missions, presence patrols and manning the observation, post he still manages to be a dad and a husband from 6,400 miles away.

    After prepping the 120mm rounds and orienting the mortar tube, they receive the order to stand down.

    Coss explains the process of prepping prior to a mission in extensive detail. On his second deployment, Coss is the pillar of the section; his men are disciplined and pay attention to every single detail with their weapons systems.

    “Once we get a grid for us to lay our guns on, it takes us a total of 30 to 45 seconds to have it prepped and ready to fire,” said Coss. “My guys are fast at what they do; that’s one of the reasons why I’m so proud of them.”

    Miller is on his first deployment and hasn’t seen much of the Army. He graduated basic training, then advanced individual training and then went to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., and then straight to Afghanistan.

    “I joined the Army to get my life moving in the right direction; my grandfather was in the Army and that motivated me to join,” said Miller.

    Every member of the mortar section has earned the Combat Infantryman Badge or CIB on this deployment. Miller was assigned to another base at the beginning of the deployment and didn’t see as much action. However, his second day at FOB Tillman he was in a “TIC” also known as a troops-in-contact incident, as the observation post was engaged in contact with the enemy earning him the CIB.

    All of the guys in the mortar section are all looking forward to getting back home and relaxing with their families.



    Date Taken: 08.17.2012
    Date Posted: 08.19.2012 07:00
    Story ID: 93493
    Location: AF

    Web Views: 650
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