By January 2016, the U.S. military had to open all combat jobs to women or explain why any must remain closed. Although controversial, the decision provided an opportunity for women across the Army to serve in traditionally male-dominated Military Occupation Specialties (MOS). The field artillery branch was one of the first jobs to open up to females.
2nd Lt. Sarah Casey, native of Collierville, Tenn., commissioned into the field artillery branch last year after she had an eye-opening conversation with a mentor who spoke to her about how field artillery shapes the battlefield.
Casey fell in love with the idea of serving in the field artillery branch. She now serves as a platoon leader in 6th Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment, 210th Field Artillery Brigade.
In the Army, the "King of Battle" has traditionally been an MOS only open to male Soldiers. This moniker is now one that Casey and many other women will have the opportunity to hold by joining the field artillery branch.
"Every job in the military matters, from changing tires, writing articles, to sending rounds 70 kilometers away," said Casey. "I just want to represent my country as a field artillery officer," she said.
Field artillery was one of the first combat arms MOSs to open to females. After gender integration began in the U.S. Army, combat MOS proponents did not lower the physical demands required of... Soldiers.
One of the most difficult tasks for Soldiers attending the U.S. Army Field Artillery School is loading and unloading 15 rounds of 155mm ammunition shells, weighing an average of 100 pounds apiece, within 15 minutes.
So, this meant that Casey, weighing roughly 125 pounds, had to move a total of 3,000 pounds in 15 minutes or less. She completed the task in nine minutes.
"It has never been about me not being strong enough or smart enough for the MOS, it's always been Lieutenant Casey getting the job done," said Casey. "I'm thankful for the women that came before me and that discrimination has not affected my career path," she said.
Casey focuses on what skills she brings to the unit as a field artillery platoon leader. She leads Soldiers who operate the M270A1 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS).
"I've never been in a place where anyone questioned my ability to perform my job," said Casey. "It doesn't matter if you're male or female, a field artillery officer is an expert in tactics, techniques for the employment of fire support systems, and neutralizes enemy forces by cannon, rocket, and missile fire," she continued.
1st Sgt. Josh Abernathy, Bravo Battery 6-37th FA, 210th FA BDE, has worked with female Soldiers throughout his career, so it's nothing new to him.
"I'm glad there is such a strong role model for female Soldiers," said Abernathy. "Lieutenant Casey always has a positive attitude on a day to day basis and projects herself as a positive role model for everyone," he said.
Casey enjoys her career in field artillery, voicing her gratitude to serve every day. Because of her career choice, she was able to serve in the 210th Field Artillery Brigade based at Camp Casey, located 13 miles from the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)., a personally significant location.
Camp Casey was named after Maj. Hugh B. Casey, a World War II veteran that was killed during the Korean War, January 1952. He died when his plane crashed on the hilltop overlooking the small camp after it had been hit by enemy fire.
A large white cross was placed on the hilltop marking the exact location of the crash site. Within days Camp Casey was named in his honor.
Fast forward 66 years and 2nd Lt. Sarah Casey has come to serve on the same post that happened to be named after her great uncle.
"I grew up knowing my family history and the sacrifices they have made," said Casey. She says the outstanding service in her family is the motivation behind her choices and she was destined to come to Camp Casey.
She recently discovered old letters that her great uncle Maj. Casey sent home, talking about battles from the wars he's been in, keeping old photos as a reminder of her history.
"It is very significant and special for me having the opportunity to serve with the 2nd Infantry Division at Camp Casey, South Korea," said Casey. "Being able to be closer to someone known as a hero," she said.