Kentucky National Guard artillery unit has a blast at Family Day

ABH-MPAD

An M109A6 Paladin 155mm howitzer of the 2-138th Fires Battalion fires a volley as part of a 21-gun salute to the unit's fallen soldiers during a Family Day celebration, Friday, 16 July. Since the Vietnam Conflict, the 2-138th Fires Battalion has lost 16 soldiers to both combat and noncombat deaths. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Aaron Hiler, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

FORT KNOX, KY (July 16, 2010) — Nearly 500 family members and friends of the 2-138th Fires Battalion showed up at Fort Knox’s St. Vith range on Friday, 16 July, for the unit’s Family Day celebration.  It’s been nearly a decade since the artillery unit had such a grand event, so they pulled out all of the stops.

“The best thing today is getting here to see all these people and soldiers,” remarked Mike McGonigle, father of Spc. James McGonigle.  “I can’t wait to see the live fire salute.  Can’t wait.”

The highlight of the day’s festivities was the 21-gun salute to the unit’s fallen soldiers.  Sixteen soldiers from the 2-138th have been died in both combat and noncombat circumstances since the Vietnam Conflict.  The 21-gun salute was then highlighted as all the unit’s howitzers fired a single volley at the same time. The thunderous report of the unit’s M109A6 Paladin self-propelled howitzers could be heard for miles.

In addition to the live-fire salute, the family Day activities included awards to recognize the contributions of the employers of 2-138th unit members and static displays of unit equipment and weapon systems.

“I’m glad they organized something like this in the field, instead of the normal family day back at the armory.”  Jerry Longo, Jr., father of Sgt. Anthony Longo, Alpha Battery, 2-138th Fires Battalion, really appreciated the opportunity to see his son’s unit in action. “This is really great for the families to see.”

Also present at the 2-138th’s Family Day was Brig. General Lonnie Culver, who had recently returned from a deployment to Afghanistan.  Brig. General Culver spent the day visiting with soldiers and speaking to family members.  Culver is the first Kentucky general officer to command troops in combat since the U.S. Civil War.

See more pictures of this event on our Kentucky National Guard Facebook Page

Brig. General Lonnie Culver returns the salute of Pvt. 1st Class Robert Chilelli, Battery A, 2-138th Fires Battalion, after awarding him the Army Achievement Medal in recognition of his superior performance during the unit's annual training, Friday, 16 July. Brig. General Culver, who previous commanded the 138th Fires Brigade, recently returned from a deployment to Afghanistan. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Aaron Hiler, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

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