Vanguard salutes Fallen with artillery rounds
May 31, 2012
FORT STEWART, Ga. - Here, fire this first," said Sgt. Scott Arent to his section while handing over a patriotically painted 105-mm round.
The words 'Remember the Fallen' were festively scribed overtop an American flag that embellished the outer casing of the high-explosive ammunition.
Sergeant Arent handed the 33-pound artillery round to his comrade, Spc. Jason Neverdahl, who awaited the command to load and then launch the M119A2 Howitzer.
"Fire!" exclaimed Spc. Neverdahl's section chief, Staff Sgt. James Storozuk, and the first of more than 60 blasts resounded over Fort Stewart, Ga., during Battery B, 1st Battalion, 76th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Third Infantry Division's unique salute to fallen service members, May 24.
"It's always good to fire rounds and especially for a good purpose," said Capt. Scott Maurer, commander of Battery B.
Captain Maurer planned a special Memorial Day tribute for his men--an opportunity for the Soldiers to remember their fallen comrades through an artillery fire mission.
The 'Patriot' Soldiers wrote the names of servicemen and women, who sacrificed their lives in order to protect and preserve the freedoms of the United States, onto munitions to be fired in their honor.
Specialist Richard Petramale added Lance Cpl. Mike Caruso and Spc. Aaron Hillary's name to one round that was also memorialized with the names of four other fallen troops.
"I grew up with Caruso, who passed away during (Operation Iraqi Freedom) and served alongside Hillary in the (1st Battalion, 9th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd ID) who passed away in a car accident just after returning home from OIF V.
"I think this is a great way to honor those who we once served with," Spc. Petramale said, adding that firing artillery rounds was also fitting as many of the names etched on the ammo were those of fellow field artillerymen.
Captain Maurer also imprinted the names of two Soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice. One Soldier was his cousin, Lt. Col. Terry Crowe, who served with the 10th Mountain Division and was killed in action in Baghdad, Iraq, 2005.
"Iraq killed him, but he didn't die," Capt. Maurer said, explaining that the Fallen service members live on through the lives of those who continue to serve. "It's important to stop and remember, and to understand that there are very few of us who actually stand up and fight for our nation."
The battery commander also said that the Memorial Day tribute gave leaders in his unit the chance to share real-life experiences with the junior Soldiers who have not yet seen combat.
"They can talk about how they dealt with their losses and help the Soldiers understand how to overcome those difficult situations," he said.
Underneath camouflaged netting that housed the Howitzer sections, the Soldiers spoke amongst themselves about the lives of those lost while waiting for their next fire command.
"Memorial Day is very important to those of us in uniform," Capt. Maurer said. "We always remember the sacrifices that our brothers and sisters have made."