Artillery brigade puts on show for families

Sgt. Robert Rogers, Fire Directions Sgt. Charlie Battery, 1st Battalion, 623rd Field Artillery demonstrates a communications system to children during the battalion’s joint family day shoot at Fort Knox, Ky., Aug. 10, 2019. Soldiers of both the 1/623rd and 2nd Battalion, 138th welcomed their families and friends to the event showcasing the operations of both units. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Capt. Michael Reinersman)

By Capt. Michael Reinersman, 138th Field Artillery Public Affairs

FORT KNOX, Ky. – Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery, and 1st Battalion 623rd Field Artillery  demonstrated their capabilities to family and friends during the battalions’ joint family day shoot, Aug. 10, at Fort Knox

Family and visitors were bused to St. Vith Range where they could safely watch an artillery live-fire exercise. The battalions set up static displays of vehicles, weaponry, High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), M109A6 Paladin howitzers, containerized kitchen and other field artillery equipment for the visitors to see, touch and take pictures in.

Staff Sgt. Jeremy Bryant, a HIMARS Chief with 1/623, brought his wife, Melissa and son to the event. “I want them to experience this for themselves,” he said.

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Soldiers explained how the equipment worked as well as demonstrated their use at the various static displays.

“To actually see the equipment and for our son to climb in the vehicles he drives, I love it.” said Melissa Byrant. “This event gives me a sense of what he does at his unit and what he would be doing if he was deployed.”

The outreach to family members provides a unique opportunity to witness what their loved ones do while training in the field.

“The joint family day and retention event is something all MSC’s (Major Subordinate Command) could learn from,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Ernest Conyers, Command Sgt. Maj. of the 2/138th.   “The fact that two battalions are doing a family day event together to get families involved and keep their love ones connected in our great organization is very important.”

During the event, Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin King, Command Sgt. Maj. of the U.S. Army Field Artillery Branch and Artillery School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, presented the Alexander Hamilton Award to Alpha Battery, 2/138th.  The Hamilton Award recognizes the most outstanding U.S. Army National Guard Field Artillery Battery of the year for superb mission accomplishment and overall unit excellence.

The main event of the day was the live-fire exercise of four M109A6 Paladin howitzers operated by 2/138th and four M142 HIMARS ran by 1/623. More than 200 hundred Soldiers, families and friends were given a pair of ear plugs as they made their way to viewing area.

Maj. Chris Fitzwater, Executive Officer with the 2/138th narrated the event as the command “fire” was given into the radio to signal the battalions to commence. The demonstration was met with amazement and cheers from the crowd as they watched howitzer rounds and rockets launch in the air leaving plumes of white smoke and a roaring concussion.

“We owe our families a debt of gratitude” said Fitzwater, while narrating the event. “We are very happy that we can share a little of our job with you all today.”

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