Kentucky Guardsmen drive on through adverse weather conditions

MJO

Story by Sgt.  Bryan Ploughe, 1/623d FA

Sgt. 1st Class Chad Jones, 1/623rd FA, shoots pop up targets at a qualification range on Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center in Greenville, Ky.

GREENVILLE, Ky. – Through the rain, wind and dropping temperatures, Soldiers assigned to the 623rd Field Artillery pushed their bodies and weapons to the limits March 5-6 at the Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center in Greenville, Ky.

Though she gave her best effort, Mother Nature couldn’t deter the Kentucky National Guardsmen from taking their positions, loading their weapons and sending rounds down range for the annual weapons qualification. “We will talk about this day again,” said battalion commander Lt. Col. Jeffery Hughes.

“The leaking rubber boots and the MRE heaters that wouldn’t warm the meals properly,” he said.“Each of our Soldiers dealt with difficult conditions, but the morale of our troops remained high.”

The Soldiers arrived at WHFRTC at 7: 30 a.m. when the high temperature for the day had already been reached. Temperatures quickly dropped into the 30s with 15-to-20 mph winds.

The first iteration of Soldiers just completed zeroing weapons when the rain picked up. Through the downpours and sideways stinging rain, more nearly 300 Soldiers qualified for the yearly weapons requirement.

“This weather was horrible, but, everybody fired pretty well,” said Spc. Wesley Harrison, fire direction specialist. “I think we were motivated to get off the range quickly.

Kentucky Guardsmen uses the virtual weapons Engagement Skills Trainer at Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center in Greenville Ky.

“We have to be out here once a year to stay proficient with our individual weapons, so we can deal with this for one day,” he said.

In addition to qualifying with the M16, a team of 50 Soldiers also trained and qualified with the M240B Squad Automatic Weapon.

Utilized since the Gulf War, the SAW is capable of firing 750-to-1000 rounds per minute with an effective range of 1800 meters.

“This weapon is awesome. The rate of fire and the accuracy that this weapon offers is something to get excited about,” said Spc. Jesse Mascoe, a fire direction specialist.

Hughes said the ability that each qualified Soldier displayed was professional and proof that the 623rd is ready for any mission in the future.

Particularly rainy ones.

“This weekend was a great display of the intestinal fortitude of our Soldiers to qualify in austere conditions without complaint,” he said. “The 623rd is filled with professional and capable Soldiers.”

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