Soldiers Repair Pieces of Artillery History
January 27, 2012
FORT SILL, Okla. --The armament repair Soldiers of B Company, 168th Brigade Support Battalion were given a quirky, unique and important "repair history" mission on Dec. 1, 2011: The small section had to fix four D-30 122mm howitzers that have set dormant for the last several years as museum pieces and "flower pots" on Fort Sill. The D-30s were needed to support B Battery, 2nd Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment, and 214th Fires Brigade, who has the mission of training the Afghanistan National Army on the guns.
The initial challenge was that the D-30 is a Cold War relic of the Soviet Union and is not made in the U.S. The 168th BSB Support operations officer, Maj. William Vick, coordinated efforts from multiple agencies and organizations on Fort Sill to procure the four guns. The Fort Sill Field Artillery Museum provided two D-30's and the Fort Sill Non-Commissioned Officer Leadership Academy provided the other two.
"Without the full support of the Artillery Museum and the Leadership Academy this mission would not have been a success" said Vick.
Once the D-30's were received, the repair would pose the next hurdle in the mission. How do you repair something that has set dormant for that long a period of time? This was the job for the company's armament repair section which consists of three small arms repair/artillery repairer Soldiers and one armament repair technician warrant officer.
"We welcome the challenge and look forward to it" said Warrant Officer Taron Chambers when he initially got the phone call.
The section hit the ground running by downloading a Russian field manual for the D-30 that was translated to English. They worked hand-in-hand with the B Company welders and machinist to fabricate specialty tools and parts needed in the repair.
"This mission changes every day", said Chambers. "We are constantly given a new set of problems to solve and you never know what lies behind that rusty bolt or seized hand crank".
To date, B Company has one D-30 mission ready and are working to bring two more back to life.
"The resiliency of these Soldiers is amazing, every problem or challenge they face is met with an out-of-the-box solution" said Lt. Col. Mendel Waddell , battalion commander. "They are a true testament to the logistical Soldier spirit."
Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey is working on a D-30 project similar to this mission, but on a larger scale, and will send a team to Fort Sill to inspect the pieces and perform a lessons learned after action review.