EL PASO, Texas - A Texas Army National Guard Soldier from C Battery, 3rd Battalion of the 133rd Field Artillery Regiment, 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 36th Infantry Division, graduated as the first female Cannon Crewmember (13B) from the Wisconsin Military Academy at Fort McCoy, Wisc., on May 21, 2019.

Texas Army National Guard Spc. Jessica Sanchez graduated from the academy as the 13B class Distinguished Honor Graduate after completing the 21-day course to become military occupational specialty qualified as an artillery Cannon Crewmember.

"I'm really excited and very proud to have graduated from this course, and even more so to be selected as the Distinguished Honor Graduate," said Sanchez, originally native to Orangeville, Calif. "The academy was great and the instructors were truly dedicated to training us to the highest level."

The course is divided into two phases: classroom training and field training, as outlined by the course description provided by the academy. During the first phase, the Soldiers learn methods of calculating targets, radio communications, and radio control and set up. The second phase trains Soldiers on how to safely handle ammunition, howitzer placement and targeting, load and unload howitzers, set fuses and prepare charges. The final test of the course is three days of live-fire exercises to practice live fire missions and prove their proficiency in using the weapon system.

"My favorite part was the live-fire exercises," said Sanchez. "I got to be a gunner during one of the days and was responsible for emplacing the howitzer on the azimuth of fire. Another day I was the Ammunition Team Chief, which means I called out incoming fire missions to the gunlines."

According to Sanchez, the class primarily trained on the M777 howitzer, which is a towed 155mm artillery piece. But the most difficult part was the Ammunition Move.

"We had to individually move 20 artillery rounds up into a truck and then back down in less than 15 minutes," she explained. "Each 155mm round weighs 98 lbs, so moving these large rounds was really physically exhausting."

In addition to being the first female to graduate the MOSQ 13B Course at the Wisconsin Military Academy, Sanchez is now the first reclassed MOSQ female Cannon Crewmember in the 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the Texas Army National Guard.

"My instructors told me that one of the many reasons I was selected as the DHG for my class was due to my infectious motivation," Sanchez claimed proudly. "They said they could hear my motivation across the entire gunline and they noticed that my course-mates were catching onto my motivation. I want to bring that kind of energy and passion back home to my unit here in El Paso, Texas."

Sanchez will be re-enlisting in late May for another six years and has made it her mission to become the first female crew chief in her battery and the 56th IBCT.