"Balls of the Eagle" conducts semi-annual Gunners Test
By by Spc. Richard Daniels, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne DivisionMarch 4, 2009
FORT CAMPBELL, KY - FEB. 27, 2009 --Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division conducted their semi-annual Field Artillery Gunners Test at Fort Campbell, Friday.
The test evaluated "Bastogne" Artillerymen on their skills and effectiveness with the M-119A2 Howitzer and qualifies their section to fire on the battlefield.
The M-119A2 Howitzer is a lightweight towed weapon that provides direct support fires to Soldiers on the ground.
"This is where we make our money," said Spc. Jose Moyorga. "The more you sweat here, the less you bleed out there," he said.
The Soldiers were tested on 21 tasks which were distributed between five testing stations. The tasks ranged from aligning a collimator to laying the howitzer for deflection to laying for quadrant with the elevation quadrant. Soldiers had to issue the correct terms where necessary in order to pass the test.
"For every task there are four points to be gained," said Staff Sgt. Raul Cazares, Master Gunner. "A 'No Go' for any of the procedures is a 'No Go' for the task," he said.
Accuracy and speed are of the essence during the test, so Soldiers in each section received a chance to test with their Chief Gunner to familiarize themselves with the procedures.
"It's important to keep Soldiers up to date," said Cazares. "They must be qualified as a section to move on. After completion, they move on to gunners testing certification," he said.
For many of the Soldiers, this was the first time testing after their recent return from a 15-month tour in Iraq's Salah ad Din Province.
"After a deployment, this is a good way to refresh them, to get them to a skill level they need to be," said Cazares.
The field gunners test was first established in 1901 and many of its guidelines are still used today.
"You got to make sure the gunner is up to the task," said Spc. John Betts. "You got men out there that depend on them."