Howitzer section arrives in Iraq ready for any mission

29 Jul 2004 | Sgt. Zachary A. Bathon

After spending almost everyday of last several months training together, Marines from one howitzer section of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit are ready to accomplish any task thrown their way.

The Leathernecks of Gun Six, Bravo Battery, attached to 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, have done it all since the section was formed back in April. They have been to the field to shoot their 155 mm Howitzers and conduct convoy operations. They have also trained as regular infantrymen conducting patrols and providing security.

Now they are in Iraq with the ability to provide indirect fire support or act like the rest of the "grunts" from the MEU's Ground Combat Element.

"We like to say which hat are we going to wear today - our 'grunt hat' or our 'arty hat?'" said Sgt. William E. Day, an Elizabethtown, Ky., native and section chief for Gun Six.

Currently Gun Six is wearing their "arty hat" after setting up in a gun position at the forward operating base here with two other guns from the battery.

"Right now we are working on improving our position," said Day. "We are building bunkers to fortify our ammunition and powder pits. We also made a mortar bunker to jump into incase we take any incoming mortar rounds."

Since many of the Marines on the gun are young and new to the artillery field, they rely on the expertise of Day and the other Marines in the section who were here last year in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom I.

"For a lot of these guys, this is maybe only their fourth time firing artillery, but we have a pretty solid crew," said Lance Cpl. Robert P. Kranz, Gun Six gunner from Netcong, N.J. "Everyone knows what they are doing and we know each other's personality and stuff so we can tell what someone is going to do."

Kranz also said the different personalities on the gun are one thing that makes it work well.

Another thing that makes it work well is the fact that the section has been constantly training since it was formed.

They started out wearing their "grunt hat." "Right after we got together in April, we went to West Virginia," said Day. " There we did patrols, non-lethal weapons training, conducted checkpoints and set up defensive positions."

Immediately following their training in West Virginia, the Marines switched hats and went out for a two-day field exercise at Camp Lejeune, N.C. There they fired more than 600 rounds in two days.

After a short break during which the battery allowed some of its Marines to take leave, Gun Six switched hats again and went California where they spent two weeks conducting security and stability operations training.

From California, Gun Six then flew to Kuwait where they began acclimating and training for their movement to Iraq.

In Kuwait, they conducting one last field artillery shoot, firing more than 500 rounds in two days.

"For us this all seems like one big field [operation], we just keep switching positions," said Day. "First we were in West Virginia, then Camp Lejeune, then California and Kuwait, now we are in Iraq."

"We have never really done anything like this before," said Kranz. "Usually we shoot and move instead of staying in one spot."

With many months a head of them here, the Marines of Gun Six are ready to face what ever mission is handed down to them, and with the training and experience they should have no problem taking care of business.