ZABUL PROVINCE, Afghanistan - The Glory’s Guns Battalion, 1st Battalion, 41st Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, Combined Task Force Raider, Third Infantry Division made history yet again during their deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom 12-13. The unit’s B Battery made history with the longest shot in combat using Excalibur munitions, and also as the first to fire the Precision Guidance Kit in combat operations, since its introduction in March 2013.
Earlier this year, A Battery, 1-41FA, under the command of Cpt. Kha Nguyen, fired the longest recorded Excalibur round from an M-777A2 towed Howitzer in combat operations at 36,250 meters. The Excalibur round has been in use for more than six years.
On April 28, 2013, during deliberate operations, multiple karez’s and homemade explosive caches were discovered and needed to be destroyed. After no signs of life were detected, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal team conducted a blow-in-place mission, but was unable to successfully destroy all of the components located in the caches. Shortly after notification from Cpt. Joseph Tague, the B Battery commander, M-777A2 crews from the battery located at two Forward Operating Bases within the vicinity of the target were prepped and ready to put rounds on target.
“As we got our firing data, I was a little nervous because of the range. But with great leadership, my fire direction officer, 1st Lt. Nathaniel Holcomb, and fire direction non-commissioned officer, Staff Sgt. Kendall Barr, stated it was possible and it is going to land safe,” said Spc. Ricardo Valadez, a member of the Fire Direction Center for 2nd Platoon, B Battery.
As with any fire mission it is always a concern for the round to land safe, the San Antonio, Texas, native said.
“We took all precautions and knew if we had the opportunity to fire the rounds that they would hit the target,” Holcomb, a native of Corunna, Mich., said. “It was a great accomplishment, and I am very proud of the platoon and all the soldiers who were a part of making history and giving the Glory’s Guns Battalion the recognition it deserves.”
The Excalibur round was recorded as breaking A Battery’s previous record and exceeding 37,500 meters. In addition to the longest Excalibur round fired in combat operations, the Precision Guidance Kit, in conjunction with the Rocket Assisted Projectile rounds, were fired by 1st Platoon, B. Battery and recorded as the first PGK fired in actual combat operations.
“I was not too confident in the PGK fuses before this fire mission, we had fired four of them in training but I still had my doubts,” added Cpt. Tague. “After seeing the effects the fuses had on the target, I have as much faith in them as I do the Excalibur rounds.”