By Sgt. Song Gun-woo (2d ID)March 18, 2015
CHEORWON, South Korea - Imagine teeing off to a hole-in-one your first time on a golf course. For some, that may seem impossible, but an infantry crew from United Nations Command Security Battalion-Joint Security Area, an extension of the 210th Field Artillery Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, did just that - shooting a perfect score during their very first gunnery.
Soldiers from UNCSB-JSA went through their first-ever gunnery Feb. 10-17 at Rodriguez Live Fire Complex near Cheorwon, South Korea. A total of six crews qualified at the unstabilized gunnery, which required shooting M240B medium machine guns from the crews' assigned humvees.
Of those six, only one, led by Sgt. Bradley Agnew, shot a perfect 1,000-point score for their initial collective crew gunnery.
"Honestly, I wasn't expecting the perfect score," said Agnew, an infantryman assigned to UNCSB-JSA. "I was expecting to qualify superior, maybe distinguished, but never perfect."
In order to shoot 1000 points a crew must earn 100 points in all 10 engagements during gunnery. With many different challenges and tasks to complete, it is a feat rarely heard of.
"A perfect thousand-point run is something that comes extremely rarely," said Lt. Col. Christopher Nyland, the commander of UNCSB - JSA. "I have seen only one or two other crews in my career, and I couldn't be prouder of these men."
Agnew, a five-and-a-half year veteran, has shot gunnery five times in his career. But this marked his first perfect run. For Pfc. Brandon Angel and Pvt. Clay Geidner, the crew's driver and gunner, it was their first time shooting gunnery in the Army.
Having experienced gunnery before, it was Agnew's job as the noncommissioned officer to ensure his crew was prepared for the qualification. The crew trained on various gunnery tasks including disassembling and reassembling M240Bs and target identification.
Good teamwork is one of the key elements to high performance at a gunnery range, said Agnew.
"It all depends on the crew," he said. "How good their camaraderie is and how good they work together is important."
"Going into gunnery and having such a great score just shows their motivation to keep excelling," said Agnew. "Now that they know they are capable of it, they shouldn't expect anything less."
The gunnery was also the battalion's first participation in an organized gunnery as well. Due to its unique mission, the battalion was previously unable to shoot gunnery because of equipment limitations, according to Nyland.
With help from the Thunder Brigade, the battalion acquired humvees and automatic weapons needed to test their skills on the range.
"As we started to get equipment on board, I looked at my operations officer and said we need to go shoot," said Nyland. "We got the equipment now and we need to make sure we know how to use it."
Although it was the battalion's first gunnery, all UNCSB-JSA crews shot exceptionally well, reaching an average score of 941.7 points.
Knowing one of their fellow crews shot a perfect score helped motivate other crews to reach for excellence, said Capt. Robert Heightchew, commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, UNCSB-JSA.
"When a crew actually does shoot a thousand, it opens up others' eyes to know that can be done," said Heightchew, a native of Roswell, Georgia. "All our other crews were chasing them and were disappointed they didn't shoot a thousand."
The successful gunnery demonstrated the battalion's ability to conduct their mission defending South Korea as well as providing a safe and secure environment for inter-Korean dialogues, said Nyland.
"Having the knowledge and confidence in my Soldiers, that they can act and engage and destroy the enemy, is absolutely essential," He added. "This is not only for the men of the battalion but for noncombatants we protect."
Agnew shared his commander's confidence in the unit's capacity to defend South Korea; some of which were displayed through the gunnery achievements.
"It not only shows people that, even though this is our first time, we can adapt and overcome anything," said Agnew. "It proves that we are better able to conduct our mission up at the JSA."