By Mitch Meador, Fort Sill TribuneFebruary 7, 2019
FORT SILL, Okla. (Feb. 7, 2019) -- The firing of 2nd Battalion, 2nd Field Artillery's 2,000,000th round Feb. 4, meant so much to its new B Battery commander that he asked to be reassigned to Fort Sill one day before it happened just so he could be a part of it.
Capt. Tyger Lyons said it's really exciting for him to witness this landmark.
"I've been in this battalion before. I've come through Fort Sill. (I) specifically requested to come back to Fort Sill, and to come back to 2-2 to command Bravo Battery, and to take the command the day before the 2,000,000th round is shot, and to be here for that historic event at the same time as the 150th anniversary of Fort Sill. That to me is just extremely special," he said.
2nd Lt. Matthew Caswell, who's been with the battery a little less than a year, said, "It is a special day, but at the same time, it's not. It's another day at the office for us, because what we do on a regular basis is we shoot rounds to help train the (Field Artillery) schoolhouse.
"Everybody coming into the Army into the artillery community, they've got to learn how to spot the rounds, they've got to call for fire, they've got to learn how to do it. So we provide that fire for them," he said.
"In a week's time we'll fire a few hundred rounds, typically. If it's a heavy week we could fire over a thousand rounds of artillery. But today is somewhat special because we're firing our 2,000,000th round. So that's a big historical thing. Not many units can get that high. We fire the most, so we need to celebrate that. It's mainly for the Soldiers that we celebrate that. It's for tradition, but it's also for the Soldiers, because they work hard. And I know it because I'm there with them and I'm watching them do their job. They work hard day in and day out," said Caswell.
The reason 2-2nd FA fires so many rounds is because the Army is always getting new Soldiers in the artillery, explained Caswell, who is both executive officer and platoon leader for B Battery, 2-2nd FA.
"Not all of them are on the guns. A lot of Soldiers in the artillery are the guys downrange who are spotting the enemy and calling in the targets. And those guys specifically are the ones that we train, because they need to practice calling in for fires. They're calling in on the dummy targets downrange, we're the ones shooting those targets for them."
As Fort Sill's salute battery, the Bravo Bulldogs can often be seen on the parade grounds firing percussion rounds for ceremonies. For this glad occasion, they set up a pair of M119A3 towed howitzers a few miles north of Medicine Bluff. They fire a 105-mm round, as opposed to the 155-mm rounds fired by the Triple 7 and the Paladin howitzers.
"Obviously those are bigger rounds. More damage. But they're also heavier, a lot more maintenance. These guns, we can strap them to the back of a humvee, and we can drive away. We can strap them to a helicopter, we can take them up in the sky, we can fly them where we need to go. You can't do that quite so easily with some of the other pieces. Everything's got a strength and weakness," Caswell said.
Caswell said it's an honor to be part of this event.
The six-member crew that fired the 2,000,000th round from Gun 2 was made up of Staff Sgt. Lee Turner, howitzer chief for this section since July 2017; Sgt. Alexander McConnell, ammunition team chief; Pfc. Tyrel Warpinski, the assistant gunner who brought Turner the round to be loaded; Pfc. Zachary Alexander, who as cannoneer No. 1 actually fired the howitzer; Spc. Israel Sedaño, cannoneer No. 2, and Spc. Alexander Thompson, the gunner.
Afterward, each of them recorded their names for posterity by signing the canister.
"To me, shooting the 2 millionth round, is an outstanding accomplishment for this battalion. Out there in the Army, there's probably no other field artillery battalion that can say they've shot a total of 2 million rounds," Turner said. "My crew did an outstanding job today and every day that I have them. We train like we fight, and we fight like we train," he added.
As battery commander, Lyons said, "I like to think of this as the longest-range field artillery unit in the world, specifically because every forward observer that comes in, not only to the Army but also into the Marine Corps, comes through Fort Sill to learn how to call for our field artillery, and to learn how to direct fires on the battlefield. And every one of those forward observers is trained by this unit.
"And so at every point of conflict around the world, you have a forward observer who was trained here at Fort Sill, by this unit, who's ready to call down the full might of the U.S. military in support of our strategic interests.
"And to me, that makes this an incredibly strategic unit, because no other field artillery unit in the world has that much influence," said Lyons.