FORT SILL, Okla. (24 Jan. 2013) -- Soldiers assigned to 1st Battalion, 17th Field Artillery, celebrated '1-17th' day with their family members Jan. 17, at Forward Operating Base Mow-Way here.

The artillery celebration kicked off at 1:17 a.m. with a series of bangs via several of the battalion's M109A6 Paladin self-propelled howitzers.

"Did anybody hear some thunder last night?" asked Lt. Col. Mark Krieger, 'Copperheads' battalion commander, as he greeted the more than 100 family members.

The event helped the commander fulfill a couple objectives while focusing on reaching out to the battalion's families and its servicemen and women.

Kreiger said they wanted to do this training while bringing the families out to let them see what their Soldiers are doing, and to celebrate the Soldiers and their families as a battalion.

Some of the couples in attendance have been together for more than a decade. However, it marked the first time the spouses and family members witnessed what their significant others do in the field.

"We've been together for 17 years and married for 14 years," said Shawnta Wilson, the wife of Staff Sgt. Charlie Wilson, an artilleryman.

"This is the first time that my family has been able to see what he [Charlie] does when he is deployed or in the field," said the Riviera, Fla., native.

Many of the Soldiers echoed one common message when asked what having their loved ones be able to experience a glimpse of their lives away from home meant to them.

"I've been explaining what it's like [to be an artilleryman] at home but there is nothing like being able to come out and experience the sight, the sound and the smell for yourself," said Charlie Wilson.

For one spouse, the celebration fulfilled her desire to have a deeper understanding of the environment that surrounds a typical FOB in Afghanistan.

"Being able to come out to this FOB is neat," said Venisa Hernandez, the wife of Spc. Brian Hernandez, a Paladin gunner. "He [Brian] has deployed, and I always wanted to see what it looked like where he was staying. Plus, it's an amazing opportunity for the children to be able to see what their dad does."