Salute Battery honors Medal of Honor recipients
February 13, 2013
CAMP CASEY, South Korea - A succession of booms rattles through the parking lot of Carey Gym on Camp Casey.
"Pfc. David Smith" fires its round sounding-off with pride and valor like the soldier the gun honors did for his country during the Korean War. Gun number two stands ready to fire again and honor its name sake and the dignitaries for which it is fired.
Gun number two along with five others are the 75mm M1A1 Pack Howitzers used for the Salute Battery with the 1st Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, during special ceremonies and events.
The howitzers are named after 2nd Infantry Division Korean War Medal of Honor recipients. From each exploding round, tribute is paid to those seven 2nd Infantry Divisioin soldiers.
"These soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice and deserve to have their names carried on through history," said 1st Lt. Mathew Deschenes, a Nashua, N.H., native and the salute battery officer in charge, Battery B, 1st Battalion, 15th FA Regiment, 1st ABCT.
Because the battalion's salute battery is the only American salute team on the Korean peninsula, they travel throughout the country rendering honors when called upon. The team appears at approximately 15 events throughout the year.
To this day, the Medal of Honor recipients continue to maneuver through the Korean peninsula firing at the ready command. The guns, line-up in formation dress right dress, wheel-base to wheel-base, all polished and ready to fire.
"Sgt. 1st Class Tony Burris" leads the squad as gun one followed by "Smith." Then "1st Lt. Lee Hartell," "Sgt. Charles Long," "1st Lt. Frederick Henry" and followed by "Sgt. 1st Class William Sitman" as the trail gun six.
During the Korean war, these six soldiers gave all in the flesh, now as steel and gunpowder they continue to pave the way for new soldiers. The team that cares for the guns take pride knowing that they serve next to historical names.
"It a good feeling knowing that I'm a part of something that is bigger than myself," said Pfc. Jacob Ferguson, a Post Falls, Idaho, native and a field artilleryman for Battery B, 1st Battalion, 15th FA Regiment, 1st ABCT. "It's a real honor firing a gun named after a Medal of Honor recipient. If you see someone sitting on the gun, you yell at them to get off. You have to respect the guns and what they signify. Those actual soldiers gave a lot for us and you really have to respect that."
The war may have concluded 60 years ago but "Burris," "Smith," "Hartell," "Long," "Henry" and "Sitman," still stand ready for their nation and are ready to serve their fellow soldiers - brothers in arms.