CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. - The 2nd Battalion, 150th Field Artillery Regiment, fired the final rounds using the M-198 155mm Towed Howitzer on Sept. 18 here.

The last round fired from the M-198 brought closure to an era that spans 18 years for the battalion.

Indiana National Guard's field artillery community came to participate in the ceremonious event with a direct fire of the M-198. The 38th Infantry Division commanding general, Maj. Gen. Tod Carmony, was in attendance along with many field artillery senior leaders. This firing brought members of the battalion, current and retired, from all over Indiana and surrounding states to mark the historic event.

"This is an opportunity to bring them out and be part of the turning to the next page of this book," said Lt. Col. Patrick Thibodeau, commander of the 2-150th. "Instead of looking toward the future all the time, it is nice to stop occasionally and look at how did we get here and recognize some people that were instrumental in developing this organization."

In a rare direct fire mode, attendees were able to see firsthand the power of the M-198 as the cannon fired 155mm rounds, destroying the intended target a few thousand meters down range. With the final rounds, attendees and senior leaders were given the opportunity to be a part of the firing team by pulling a 25-foot ceremonial lanyard to initiate the firing of the cannon.

"The direct fire is one of the only times that you get to see us shoot the howitzer and see the rounds impact," said Thibodeau.

In the early 1990s, the 2-150th received the M-198, which replaced the M-114 Towed Howitzer that had been used since the 1940s. With the changing times and needs of field artillery the M-198 was a welcome change for the battalion.

"The M-114 was an excellent weapon that had been around since World War II," said Master Sgt. Therron Thomas, operations noncommissioned officer for Indiana Joint Forces Headquarters. "When we saw these (M-198) come in, all the specifications said they were going to be a more accurate and timely weapon. They proved to be. I was excited about it."

The M-198 is constructed of aluminum and steel used mainly for indirect fire. It is transportable by wheeled vehicles, helicopters and transport aircraft.

The M-198 provided increased range, reliability, and maintainability than its previous predecessors. The howitzer was used throughout the Cold War and into the Global War on Terrorism.

The battalion's retirement of the M-198 does not mark the end of the 155mm howitzer, but makes way for a new system, the M-777 155mm Lightweight Howitzer. The new howitzer is intended to provide even better capabilities on the battle fields of tomorrow while still delivering the lethal punch of its 100 pounds of explosives and steel.

"We are kind of sad to see this particular piece go, but we are also stoked to get the new one that we are replacing it with," said Spc. Tyler Flynn, gun crew member. "Artillery has changed over the years."

With the new M-777 the battalion will be one of only a handful of National Guard units with the most modern and relevant towed-artillery system in the nation.

"We are looking forward to the future and the opportunity," said Thibodeau.

"We are proud to continue our legacy of tube-towed howitzers."

<strong>History of the 2nd Battalion, 150th Field Artillery Regiment</strong>

The battalion traces its lineage back to the late 1800s. Organized on November 22, 1882, as the 1st Regiment, Indiana Light Artillery, the battalion was born.

The battalion served in many wars and campaigns: the Spanish-American War, the Mexican Border Campaign, World War I, World War II, and the Global War on Terrorism.

Its service in the Global War on Terrorism took the battalion away from its traditional role of artillery. Its Soldiers conducted security of critical infrastructure on the home front during Operation Noble Eagle.

In Operation Iraqi Freedom, the battalion deployed to perform various missions including training Iraqi police and securing Iraq's highways.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16