By Sgt. Joshua LaidackerMay 21, 2014
FORT STEWART, Ga. (May 16, 2014) - Soldiers of Battery B, 1st Battalion, 76th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, conducted air assault training on Fort Stewart, May 16.
The training was conducted as separate two-gun air assault raids.
Soldiers performed an aircraft safety orientation and mounted and dismounted the UH-60L Black Hawk helicopters. The soldiers also hooked up and moved two M119A2 howitzers from one site to another by means of sling load, and finally, conducted a mock call for fire mission to complete the training.
Air assets enhance the ability of light field artillery units to move around the battlefield at a rapid pace and enable them to be used nearly any place a cannon can be set down.
"This training is important because it gets us back to the core basis of being a light artillery unit," said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Skeen, a platoon sergeant with Battery B, 1-76 FA. "All you need is a UH-60 and/or Chinook and the light artillery piece and that's it. We can go where we need to go."
The enthusiasm of approximately 70 soldiers showed most when even the flying dust and debris of the landing Black Hawks didn't wipe the smiles off their faces.
"It was pretty awesome," said Pfc. Douglas Powell, a cannon crew member with Battery B and a native of Los Angeles, who found out about the training two months ago. "Day and night I was thinking about this."
Skeen, a native of Dothan, Alabama, added the soldiers trained rigorously through scenarios with the 105mm cannons leading up to the event.
Powell said the training built a better base of experience for the soldiers and enhanced their proficiency.
"It builds a stronger foundation for the soldiers," said Powell.
The soldiers of Battery B don't have their eyes set solely on training for proficiency's sake.
"We're actually planning on doing this at West Point," Skeen said. "We have to do this so that way we have the dust knocked off for a lot of us that have done it [before], and to give these new guys experience on it before we get there."
Powell added he felt like it was important for the less-experienced soldiers to get comfortable with this type of mission now when the pressure is low, so they can excel when the pressure is on. He was also quick to admit the training wasn't all business for him.
"I'm a little bit of an adrenaline junky so when the wind hit and the chopper started swinging, it was a good time," Powell said.