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11/24/2017 4:44:23 PM
11/22/2017 10:05:29 PM
Posted: 10/15/2004 2:02:50 PM EST
October 14, 2004

Teamwork produces ‘fastest gun in the west’

By Cpl. Jan Bender
1st Marine Division


The Marines of Gun 5 work quickly to load the first round of a fire mission. Each team member has different responsibilities. They must ensure their M198 Howitzer is set in the right direction and elevation, with the proper round and charge loaded before the breech is closed. Then the lanyard is pulled and the round is fired. — Cpl. Jan Bender / U.S. Marine Corps photo

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq — They have earned the title “Fastest Gun in the West” — the west end of Camp Fallujah, Iraq.

For the nine Marines who operate Gun 5, Battery M, 4th Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, being the best is all about teamwork. The Marines, based in Chattanooga, Tenn., are part of Camp Fallujah’s Artillery Counter Battery.

The Marines earned their title through an ongoing competition in the battery, setting themselves apart from the other five guns by preparing a counter-battery mission in record time.

They can maneuver their 14,000 pound M198 Howitzer in 360 degrees, set the elevation, load a 100-pound round, determine the correct charge and stand ready for the word to fire in just under 57 seconds.

“Ever since I joined, everything in the Corps has been a competition. It’s all about pride,” said Lance Cpl. Greg Kuehn, 23, a native of Hickson, Tenn., and a cannoneer with Gun 5. “We work hard to be the fastest gun, just so we can say we’re the best.”

The competition is tight, with only a few seconds difference between each gun’s finish time, but the Marines say that’s what makes it fun.

“We try to beat everybody in whatever we do,” said Staff Sgt. Norman Dale Head, the Gun 5 section chief. “And it snowballs into a competitive spirit that helps pass the time out here.”

The battery’s six guns are in charge of providing counter-battery fire for several coalition installations in the area. Those installations receive rocket and mortar fire from Anti-Iraqi Forces regularly, so Marines must remain proficient in their skills.

Camp Fallujah’s counter-battery radars track the projectiles from the point of origin and relay this information to the Fire Direction Control Center. Marines at the FDC run the numbers through a series of equations and contact the battery Marines, supplying them with a fire mission that will destroy the threat.

However, the 6tactics of the Anti-Iraqi Forces have evolved as they try to evade the battery’s counter fire by firing rockets or mortars from the backs of trucks or rigging the projectiles with timing devices. The cannoneers know they have to make every second count.

“One thing I’ve tried to instill in my Marines from the beginning is that every step that we take, fast or slow is directly related to someone else,” said Sgt. Eric J. Radich, 24, a native of Gainesville, Ga., and an assistant gunner with Gun 5. “If we move slow, (our counter fire) gets there slow. In many ways, our job acts as a life saver.”

The battery is also responsible for supporting any coalition ground forces operating within their range of fire. These Marines respond with high-explosive, illumination or smoke rounds to destroy objectives or mark targets for air support.

“The infantry troops can rely on us. They know the round is coming in accurately and on time,” said Sgt. Guy Yale, 35, a native of Atlanta and the Gun 5 ammo chief. “So, in the end, the little competitive games turn out to be positive for everybody.”

The entire battery was activated July 15 and spent two months training at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., before deploying to Iraq. They relieved the Marines of Battery A, 1st Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, on Sept. 4.

This is the first time the Marines from Chattanooga have been activated since November 1990, when they were brought on active duty in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

Head, 35, a native of Ringgold, Ga., was a lance corporal with the battery during Desert Storm. This may be a different war, he said, but the young Marines are still the same. “They are constantly working hard out here and doing one hell of a job.”

And for the younger Marines deploying for the first time, there is no place they’d rather be.

“We are all motivated to be out here,” said Cpl. Kevin Bovina, 22, a native of Chattanooga, Tenn., the gunner for Gun 5. “This is what I joined the Corps to do. I’m glad to finally be able to do it.”

The Marines of Gun 5, along with the rest of Battery M, have only been in Iraq for one month of their expected seven-month tour, but they have no doubts that the title of “Fastest Gun in the West” will remain in their hands. They believe this achievement is a reflection of good teamwork.

“We’ve got a good mix of Marines on this gun,” said Radich, 24, a native of Atlanta. “We may not have all the characters out of the battery or the biggest and strongest guys, but we all work together, pull our own weight and it just seems to work.”
Link Posted: 10/15/2004 2:05:03 PM EST
On one hand I am glad they are doing a great job and there is plenty of firepower in that area.

On the other I am sad that we still need arty in Iraq.
Link Posted: 10/15/2004 2:05:05 PM EST
nothin better when you need it!
Link Posted: 10/15/2004 2:07:35 PM EST

Originally Posted By Happyshooter:
On one hand I am glad they are doing a great job and there is plenty of firepower in that area.

On the other I am sad that we still need arty in Iraq.



At least they aren't scrapping them in order to look more friendly or under control... if they are using em, they need em... and as long as it keeps our boys/girls safe, I'm happy.



Keep up the good work fellahs.

- BG
Link Posted: 10/15/2004 2:14:02 PM EST
Artillery is so damn cool....I can only imagine what a rush that must be for our guys to hear our rounds outbound.
Link Posted: 10/15/2004 2:23:45 PM EST

Originally Posted By mike45acp:
nothin better when you need it!



AMEN, nothing like the King of Battle. The King of Battle doesn't have worry about bad flying weather, loiter time, egress time, limited bomb load. Obviously from this fine Leatherneck Arty crew, rounds down range don't take long to make Hadji's meet their virgins.
Link Posted: 10/15/2004 2:27:43 PM EST
57 seconds?

Impressive. Very impressive.
Link Posted: 10/15/2004 2:30:54 PM EST

Originally Posted By BUCC_Guy:

Originally Posted By Happyshooter:
On one hand I am glad they are doing a great job and there is plenty of firepower in that area.

On the other I am sad that we still need arty in Iraq.



At least they aren't scrapping them in order to look more friendly or under control... if they are using em, they need em... and as long as it keeps our boys/girls safe, I'm happy.



Keep up the good work fellahs.

- BG



A BIG +1

Thanks for the article, KA3B.

Scott

Link Posted: 10/15/2004 2:32:13 PM EST
The one on the left looks like he has a grin on his face.


God I thank these brave men for their service and pray that God keep them safe and their aim true.


-LS
Link Posted: 10/15/2004 2:36:57 PM EST

Originally Posted By eodtech2000:

Originally Posted By mike45acp:
nothin better when you need it!



AMEN, nothing like the King of Battle. The King of Battle doesn't have worry about bad flying weather, loiter time, egress time, limited bomb load. Obviously from this fine Leatherneck Arty crew, rounds down range don't take long to make Hadji's meet their virgins.



Hell yeah! All day...all night...any direction...any weather...they keep going and going...ROCK THE FUCK ON!!!
Link Posted: 10/15/2004 2:39:29 PM EST

Originally Posted By JHP:
Artillery is so damn cool....I can only imagine what a rush that must be for our guys to hear our rounds outbound.



Yup...a rush equaled only by the enemy's fear as they hear those same rounds INBOUND!
Link Posted: 10/15/2004 2:49:28 PM EST

Originally Posted By JHP:
Artillery is so damn cool....I can only imagine what a rush that must be for our guys to hear our rounds outbound.



Not near as much as the folks needing to hear them inbound.
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