Master gunners visit Iowa Army Ammunition Plant, a tour that takes place normally every six months, to see operations. They traveled from military installations across the U.S. including Washington, Texas, Kentucky, Georgia, and North Carolina.

MIDDLETOWN, Iowa-- Seven Abrams master gunners toured the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant in early April to get a first-hand view on how the 120 mm tank ammunition is assembled and the detailed check and balances process the ammunition goes through.

The master gunner's tour takes place normally every six months and exposes the gunners to the live ammunition production process.

The master gunners in attendance were: Army Master Sgt. Michael T. McCarthy, Headquaters Headquarters Company, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas, Army Sgt. 1st Class Roddney D. Hackstall, 1-15 Infantry, Fort Benning, Ga, Army Master Sgt. Jeffery E. Packer, 1-204th Regiment, Gowen Field, Idaho Marine Staff Sgt. Dennis K. Downes, 4th Tank Battalion, Yakima, Wash., Marine Gunnery Sgt. Myron D. Tapio, 2nd Tank Battalion, Camp LeJeune, N.C., Army Master Sgt. Craig G. Richardson, Headquarters Headquarters Company , 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga, and Army Staff Sgt. Christian E. Beyer, 194th Armored Brigade , Fort Knox, Ky.

Wakeland Kumaroo, a contractor with the Project Manager-Maneuver Ammunition Systems from Fort Knox accompanied the visitors on the tour. He is the liaison between the Soldiers and Marines.

"Our intent is that master gunners view firsthand how tank main gun ammunition is produced. The better they understand how the ammunition is produced. The better they understand how ammunition is produced to include the many checks and balances used during this production, the more confident they are in this ammunition," said Kumaroo. "The second big piece is the benefit to the workers especially on the line. They get to hear first-hand from our Soldiers and Marines about how effective and reliable their ammunition is in the field. This quality ammunition allows effective training in combat, a key portion of saving their lives."

The one-day visit began with a briefing from American Ordnance personnel Joe Shilling, direct fire business unit leader. The briefing highlighted: ammunition capabilities, safety, infrastructure, production maps, and the five direct and indirect fire business units. During the briefing, visitors were welcomed and given a coin by IAAAP Commander, Lt. Col. Tommie Hewitt.

After the briefing, the visitors received a tour of the 120 mm tank round line, paint and cartridge assembly, advance case systems, and propellant loading and priming of rounds.

While touring the plant, the visitors were given the opportunity to meet with the workers on the production lines. Iowa AAP workers were given the chance to ask the master gunners questions about any deficiencies they have experienced with tactical rounds, if they receive enough of ammunition, and credentials that are needed in order to become a master gunner.

"This training allowed the master gunners in attendance, an opportunity to mesh theory with reality when it comes to ammunition production", said Army Sgt. 1st Class Hackstall.

"By knowing what these munitions consists of internally, and seeing firsthand the care American Ordnance places on assembling them, I am more confident we have the best on our side."

American Ordnance provided a casual barbeque lunch for the visitors. During lunch the visitors and production workers ate lunch together.

They were given the opportunity to engage in dialogue about the ammunition and the detailed check and balance process the ammunition goes through.

Also, this gave the master gunners the opportunity to say thanks to the production workers for all the hard work in producing and ensuring the safety of the ammunition every day.

After the tour concluded, the master gunners thanked Joe Shilling and the American Ordnance contractor personnel for the detailed tour and the warm hospitality they showed them.

Marine Staff Sgt. Downes stated, "Visiting the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant was a very informative and enjoyable experience. The pride that each employee takes in making the 120 mm ammunition shows the quality of the finished product. Without the quality ammunition that the plant produces for my Marines would not be able to get the quality of training that they need before deploying to fight our nations battles. I want to thank everyone at the plant for the work they do. Without them we would not be able to accomplish the missions that we are tasked with."

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