By Mr Timothy Rider (RDECOM)April 24, 2012
Picatinny Arsenal dedicated a newly built, small arms range complex April 23rd to Master Sgt. Paul D. Karpowich, an infantry Soldier and former drill instructor from Hazelton, Pa., who died with U.S. and Iraqi Soldiers and civilian contractors in a dining hall in Mosul, Iraq, Dec. 21, 2004.
"His loss is still felt by the Army, the people from his town in Pennsylvania and of course by his family, said Brig. Gen. Jonathan Maddux, Picatinny Arsenal's senior commander.
Karpowich's sister, Kristen R. Holloway, described her brother with three words: drive leadership and pride.
"If he wasn't doing several tasks simultaneously, all to perfection, he wasn't happy," said Holloway.
She described her brother as patriotic and very proud of his military service, saying he wore his dress blue Army uniform to his wedding and handed out small American flags to wedding guests.
Karpowich's biography captured details from Karpowich's last day:
"After two weeks of patrols in the dangerous streets of Mosul, Paul got a chance to return to a base and catch a hot meal and a shower. While there, he and numerous fellow American Soldiers were killed in action by the acts of a suicide bomber who struck the chow hall at Forward Operating Base Marez at lunch time."
"The world lost this giant of a man in of all places -- a chow hall -- in a tragedy that underscores why all of our hearts are stamped with a desire for an end to war," said Barbara Machak, executive director of the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center Enterprise and Systems Integration Center.
The U.S has military personnel overseas and remains obligated to prepare Soldiers and Marines to face the dangers it foresees, said Machak. The new facility will be used primarily for the development of small arms weapons, which infantry Soldiers think of as their "most important piece of kit."
The complex will also be used for pre-deployment training for active and reserve Army, Marine and National Guard units, said Machak. Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies will also be able to train in the facility.
"I hope they will train here with the same tenacity he lived his life by," said Sgt. Maj. Paul Wilcock, a friend who trained with Karpowich and who was in Iraq when Karpowitch died.
The Master Sergeant Paul D. Karpowich Small Arms Ranger Complex has 21 firing lanes that can accommodate pistol, shotgun and up to 7.62mm machine gun fire. It cost approximately $2 million to construct, said Machak.
Operated by the ARDEC, the range is 25-meters long with angled armor baffles mounted overhead that ensure rounds and fragments do not injure shooters. Projectiles are fired into a bullet trap system so that spent round can be recovered and recycled.
The facility was also built to gain feedback from Soldiers on developing small arms weapons and will be used for demonstrations to Army leaders and decision makers, said Col. Scott Armstrong, the U.S. Army Project Manager for Soldier Weapons.
Those demonstrations could play a role in deciding whether a new system or upgrade makes it into a Soldier's hands in battle because they help key people "understand first-hand how these systems work, and the capability they represent to Soldiers," said Armstrong.
"Project Manager Soldier Weapons is proud to have played a role in the creation of this outstanding facility and we thank Sergeant Major Wilcock for his role in making it happen," said Armstrong.
We will work hard to leverage this resource on behalf of Soldiers as we strive to continuously improve the lethality and capability of their weapon systems," Armstrong continued.
Wilcock said that Karpowich was known as "Karp" to his fellow Soldiers. He described him as creative, artistic and an animal lover. He said Karpowich was "very mature" and "always thought of second and third order effects" before making decisions.
Although derailed by the weather from attending the dedication, 98th Training Division Assistant Division Commander-Operations, Col. Todd Arnold, sent remarks that were read at the ceremony.
"Every Soldier who Paul trained benefitted from his knowledge, professionalism and friendship and ultimately passed on that experience to others, thus perpetuating Paul's presence with each of us."
Below are highlights from Karpowich's biography.
He studied architecture at Luzerne County Community where he received an associate's degree in architectural design and was voted architectural student of the year.
He began four years on active duty with the 82nd Airborne Division in 1992 with which he deployed to the Sinai Peninsula. He joined the Army reserves in 1996.
He received the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Good Conduct Medal Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terror Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with Mobilization Device, NCO Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, and Multinational Forces Observer Medal.
He was awarded the Combat Infantryman's Badge, Expert Infantryman's Badge, Parachutist Badge and Drill Sergeant Badge. He was also an Army Sniper School graduate.
He was hand-selected to train new Iraqi troops in Northern Iraq.