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A Battery reaches out, touches insurgents

Marine Corps News

Story Identification #: 20055925834
Story by Lance Cpl. Evan M. Eagan

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq (May 9, 2005) -- They are not often seen, but they’re definitely heard. In the late hours of the night or in the early morning, the thundering blasts shake the ground, which can be felt across the camp here and causes many service members to ask, “Was that incoming or outgoing?”

In most cases it’s outgoing, and the artillery Marines of A Battery, 1st Battalion, 10th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, are the ones making all the noise.

“We provide support for any and everybody that calls for us,” said Gunnery Sgt. Michael Jones, Alpha Battery gunnery sergeant, 1/10. “Any unit that calls for fire, if it’s cleared and confirmed we fire on the targets they call on and we take them out.”

A Battery, which is 140 Marines strong, is made up of six sections, two of which rotate into the city to provide security at the Civil Military Operations Center and the Fallujah Liaison Team site.

Armed with M198 medium-towed Howitzers, the Marines of A Battery are busy around the clock providing counter battery fire for Camp Fallujah.

“Most of the missions have been counter fire,” said Sgt. Steve Pullins, operations chief, fire direction control center. “After the enemy fires on us, we can get rounds back on them in about four or five minutes.”

And when it comes to long range, these Marines go the distance.

“We can reach anyone within 30 clicks [18.2 miles],” said Jones, a Gulfport, Miss., native. “We have 6400 mils capability which is a full circle. We can reach out and touch them from any direction.”

The FDCC processes anywhere from 30 to 35 missions a day, however, they may end up shooting only once, said 2nd Lt. Ryan King, fire direction officer, FDCC.

“We wish we could get more action,” King said with a smile. “We’re more than ready for it.”

No one knows this better than the Marines assigned to Gun three.

As soon as they get word of a possible target, the Marines rush to get their gear on and prepare the Howitzer for the shot, however, more times than not, the mission is ended before they fire.

“We do this all day,” said Sgt. Ryan Hurtado, section chief, gun three, a Prescott, Ariz., native. “The guys get pumped up when we get something, and then the mission is usually ended.”

The first time A Battery deployed to Iraq, during Operation Iraqi Freedom I, they came with the rest of 1/10 as a battalion. According to Jones, 75 percent of the Marines are new and were not with the battery at the time.

“The Marines have been motivated out here to do their part for whatever mission,” Jones said. “The morale is high. These Marines are good at what they are doing. They are very proficient.”


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