Female Soldier launches into history

Story and photos by Spc. Sara Wiseman
210 FA Bde. Public Affairs

CHEOLWEON, South Korea -- A haze falls over the surrounding mountains of Rocket Valley. The tracks of multiple launch rocket systems leave deep trails in the mud. A group of Soldiers stand by their vehicle after just completing qualification fires.
"I'm running on no sleep right now," said Pvt. Nicole Ammar-Thiel from Wilmington, N.C., an MLRS crewmember assigned to Battery C, 6th Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment, 210th Field Artillery Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.
Ammar-Thiel is one of three women assigned to 6th Bn., 37th FA Regt. as an MLRS crewmember. The position was occupied exclusively by men until last May.
"I picked the job because it wasn't open to females before," Ammar-Thiel said.
MLRS qualification exercises are required for all crewmembers and can only be executed after Soldiers complete a certification process that includes an exam and hands on training with their equipment.
"What we do here is the bread and butter of the MLRS world," said 2nd Lt. Calvin W. Ogburn, the executive officer assigned to Btry. C, 6th Bn., 37th FA Regt. "It not only maintains the readiness of the unit, it shows the individual Soldier that he or she is able to perform their mission to a certain set of standards."
MLRS crewmembers spend days, even weeks out in the field fulfilling the mental and physical demands of handling and maintaining their rocket system equipment and its ammunition in a combat scenario environment.
"I love it," said Ammar-Thiel. "You can't just go out in America and say 'Oh hey, I want to shoot off rockets.' This isn't a desk job."
While Ammar-Thiel measures in at just around 5 feet 4 inches tall, she pulls her weight. She operates and maintains her launcher. She fires rockets from it. And she goes out in the field alongside her team.
"She's a Soldier," said Staff Sgt. David Ezzio, from Des Moines, Iowa, an MLRS section chief assigned to Btry. C, 6th Bn., 37th FA Regt. "She does her job just like the rest of us. When she needs help, it's my job to be there to help."
MLRS crewmembers are required to be trained observers, capable of coordinating and communicating target location, engaging enemies at long range, and accurately controlling fire direction.
"I went from dressing up every day to having dirt caked on me for days," she said.
Pvt. Nicole Ammar-Thiel and the 210th FA Bde. are trained and ready to respond to any contingency, ready to "Fight Tonight" and win if called upon.