Fort Sill Soldiers repair, restore Cold War artillery
February 2, 2012
FORT SILL, Okla-- On Dec. 1, B Company, 168th Brigade Support Battalion armament repair Soldiers performed a unique and important mission "repair history."
The mission was to receive, repair and make functional four D-30 122mm howitzers that have sat dormant for the last 20 years as museum pieces and "flower pots" on Fort Sill.
The rehabilitated artillery pieces will support B Battery, 2nd Battalion, 5th Field Artillery and its mission to train some Afghanistan National Army soldiers on the D-30s.
The initial challenge was that the D-30 is a Cold War relic of the Soviet Union and is not manufactured anywhere in the United States.
Maj. William Vick, 168th BSB support operations officer, coordinated efforts from multiple agencies and organizations on Fort Sill and procured four D-30s to facilitate the mission. The Fort Sill Field Artillery Museum provided two D-30s, the other two came from the Fort Sill Noncommissioned Officer Leadership Academy.
"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-30s were received, the repair would pose the next hurdle in the mission. How do you repair something that has set dormant for over 20 years? This job became the responsibility of the armament repair section which consists of three artillery and small arms repair Soldiers and one armament repair technician warrant officer.
We welcomed the challenge and looked forward to it," recalled Warrant Officer Taron Chambers from when he initially got the phone call.
B Company Armament Section immediately set to the task at hand, from downloading a Russian field manual for the D-30 that was translated to English to working hand-in-hand with the B Company welders and machinists 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 is 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. They are a true testament to the logistical Soldier spirit," said Lt. Col. Mendel Waddell 168th BSB commander.
Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey is currently working on a D-30 project similar to B Company's mission but on a much larger scale. Picatinny is sending a quality assurance, quality checks team to Fort Sill to inspect the pieces and perform a lessons learned after action review.