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Artillery Unit Fires First Combat Shots in More Than 50 Years

Kirkuk, Iraq
-- The Soldiers of the Idaho Army National Guard's 1st Platoon, Howitzer Battery, 1-148th Field Artillery Regiment, made history on Jan. 5 when they fired missions in support of Soldiers of the Iraqi Army, marking the first time in more than 50 years the unit has fired its howitzers in combat.

Working in concert with Bravo Battery, Task Force 2-11 Field Artillery of Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, the Idaho Army National Guard Soldiers fired three 155 mm Illumination rounds in support of Iraqi Army troops in contact with insurgent forces. Later that night, the unit also fired two high-explosive rocket-assisted projectile rounds as a counterfire response to a ground radar acquisition.

"January 5th is a very historic day for the proud artillerymen of the 1st Battalion, 148th Field Artillery," said 1-148th Field Artillery Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Russell Johnson. "This marks the first time in nearly 52 years that an organic battery of the 148th Field Artillery has fired its cannons in a combat role."

These were the first combat cannon missions fired by this eastern Idaho-based unit currently deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom with the 116th Brigade Combat Team.

"The long hours and days spent training for this mission and transitioning into this theater paid off tonight as these great Soldiers provided timely and accurate fires against insurgent forces," Johnson said.

Release #050116j

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