By Spc. Ben Fox, 3rd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public AffairsApril 14, 2008
FORT HOOD, Texas - After training for several days at an Observe Fire Trainer, the top four fire support specialists from the 'Grey Wolf' Brigade competed in a brigade shoot-off March 20.
"The competition itself just came up as we started doing the fire-support tables," said Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Stone, the Fire Effects Coordination Cell noncommissioned officer for the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.
"I could tell they were getting a lot out of it, but I wanted to make it a little more challenging and rewarding," said Stone.
The winner of the impromptu competition was Pfc. Lucas Viers, a native of Indianola, Iowa. Viers is assigned to 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.
"We went to qualify the day before, and then after that they told me I did pretty well and I was going to be in the 'Brigade Shoot-Off'," said Viers.
He arrived to his unit in May 2007 while the brigade was deployed and served almost seven months in Iraq.
While deployed, Viers said he didn't have the opportunity to practice calling for fire.
"I used the OFT before, but that was just at (Advanced Individual Training)," said Viers. "That was the last time I used it until qualifying day."
Viers' said his leadership was helping him prepare for the training day.
"We've been studying everyday since we've been back, but we hadn't actually used the OFT until qualifying day," he said.
Viers said he had fierce competition when it was narrowed down to the last two.
"The guy I was going up against put up a really good fight," he said. "We weren't sure who won."
The first stage of the final contest consisted of the two Soldiers trying to destroy their targets simultaneously, said Viers.
"He did hit his target first on that one," he admitted.
"I was really close to mine and I fired for effect," Viers said. "So then I adjusted and hit my target right after he did.
"They thought it was a close call, so they took us in the hallway," he said.
"They brought him in first and gave him two immediate suppression missions," said Viers. "I'm not sure how he did on those.
Then Viers went in to face the challenge.
During the competition, the Soldiers weren't allowed to have some of the equipment they normally had and were put in different situations than they were familiar with.
"We always do the standard classroom environment call for fire stuff, which we have to do in order to get the fundamentals down," said Stone. "I thought it would be nice for these Soldiers to do something more challenging at the end."
By taking away the equipment and setting up certain situations, Stone simulated what the Soldiers are likely to face down range.
"They had us in foxholes; I've never had to do that in an OFT," said Viers.
"We could only pop up for three seconds at a time out of the foxhole with our (binoculars)," he said.
"It was pretty stressful actually," said Viers.
In the end, Viers came out on top and received a plaque to remember the event by.