By PVT Lee, Yoon JooNovember 29, 2006
ROCKET VALLEY - A rocket fired from the launcher screamed over the mountain, shaking up the serenity of the range, as 6-37 Field Artillery conducted a Multiple Rocket Launch System gunnery exercise Oct 17.
For this gunnery exercise, which is a tri-annual event, two batteries, Alpha and Bravo, from 6-37 FA participated, operating six launchers for each battery. With three rockets firing per launcher, 36 rockets were fired.
"This is the last gunnery exercise for this year as we have already conducted it in April and June," said Lt. Col. David Danikowski. "The purpose of this exercise is to qualify the MRLS crews and to test the live-fire rockets."
As the firing started, the launcher found itself flat and stable ground among the bumpy terrain for the safe firing. Then, after receiving an approval message from the fire direction center, with a few minutes preparation and a five second countdown, a rocket was fired, leaving a smoke trace behind as it zipped across the sky.
"A rocket can devastate the area of 140 meters in length and width once it hits the ground," Danikowski said.
The rocket headed toward the target at Santa Barbara, which was 11 kilometers southwest from the range. The firings were made one at a time with a 10-15 minute pause in between for safety reasons.
Although the sound of the rocket firing resembled loud thunder in the middle of a harsh storm, Soldiers looked rather calm.
"I am quite experienced with the rockets since this is fourth time for me participating in a MRLS gunnery exercise," said Spc. Richard Gee from Alpha Battery. "It helps me sustain my skill as I go through the same exercise more than once."
Additional to the exercise, it was also Family Day for 6-37 FA Soldiers. On Family Day, families of the Soldiers are invited to the range and get chance to see what their fathers and husbands do in the field.
This only happens in gunnery exercises with the approval from the commander. They already had Family Day at the middle of this year in previous gunnery training. While Soldiers were waiting for their turn to fire, they spent time with their families.
"It is nice to see what my husband does when he is in the field," said Terri Mack, the wife of Pfc. Casey Mack from Bravo Battery. "Children also seem to enjoy their time here. Although they looked pretty scared when the rockets were fired, they really enjoyed eating MREs."
"By inviting my family here and giving them chance to see what I do, they get to understand and appreciate more of what I do," said Pfc. Mack. "I think Family Day is a great idea."