1-145th Christens New Howitzers

with Booms and Bubbly

 

>>>Photo Gallery>>>

 

Written by Maj. Hank McIntire

Published  June 30, 2005

   

Photo by Paula Nicholson, Dugway Public Affairs

A gun chief of the 1-145th Field Artillery christens

his new Paladin self-propelled howitzer.

 

DUGWAY PROVING GROUND, Utah First Battalion, 145th Field Artillery, Utah National Guard, formally retired their old M198 howitzers and christened new artillery pieces in a ceremony at Dugway Proving Ground June 24.

 

Brig. Gen. Patrick D. Wilson, commander of I Corps Artillery, ceremonially ordered the final fire mission of one of battalion’s eighteen M198 155 mm howitzers to recognize the weapons’ collective service and to officially retire them.

 

The old weapon was fired once and towed away to Fiddler’s Green, the legendary resting place for old artillerymen and their weapons.

 

Soldiers of the 1-145th then followed a time-honored tradition by naming their 18 new artillery pieces—M109A6 Paladin self-propelled howitzers—and breaking a bottle of champagne over each muzzle.

 

The practice of naming cannons can be traced back at least as far as Civil War days when artillerymen from Virginia christened four of their guns Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

 

Photo by Maj. Hank McIntire

The M109A9 155mm self-propelled

Paladin howitzer Apocalypse.

Some of the names Soldiers chose for the new guns reflected the power and capability of the Paladin: Apocalypse, Judgment, Attila’s Fury, Thor, Rolling Thunder, and Atack Attack, in honor of 1-145th Commander Lt. Col. Dallen Atack.

 

Names given to some of the other new howitzers—War Pig, Sara Jane, Miss Kitty IV and Pig Dog—defied explanation.

 

After the christening, Wilson addressed the Soldiers assembled and complimented them for having what it took to be entrusted with the new weapons system.

 

“Today is a day of celebration. We turn the page and open another chapter,” he said. “Your dedication, hard work, and great service are the reason these Paladins are here.”

 

Wilson added, “Without a doubt, we have the best artillerymen this Nation has to give,” to which Atack and his Soldiers responded spontaneously with a resounding, “Hooah!”

 

Photo by Maj. Hank McIntire

1-145th Commander Lt. Col. Atack, left, presents Brig. Gen. Wilson with a unit coin commemorating the 20 years of service of M198 howitzers to the 1-145th.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, Atack presented Wilson with a special unit coin commemorating the twenty years of service of the M198 howitzers to the battalion.

 

Crews then moved the new Paladins into a firing line and calibrated (fired) the weapons to determine individual howitzer muzzle velocities.

 

Establishing the muzzle velocity on a new artillery piece is important because that data will be factored into the firing equation along with such things as distance, wind, temperature and humidity to make the necessary calculations for the round to hit the target on the first try.

 

As he watched his Soldiers move their Paladins into firing position, Atack reflected on the meaning of the day’s events.

 

“Bringing in the Paladin to replace the M198 keeps the 1-145th relevant to the future missions of the Army,” he said. “This new howitzer greatly enhances our responsiveness to front-line Soldiers and increases the survivability of our own unit members.”

 

Photo by Maj. Hank McIntire

Cadet Curtis Nielsen, left, and Spc. Kendall Redmond, from  Alpha and Charlie Batteries, 1-145th, respectively, pose with Redmond’s assigned howitzer, Crypt Keeper.

Atack explained that a field artillery unit from another state was initially slated to receive the Paladins, but they were unable to maintain the required troop levels to support them. That opened the door for the fully manned 1-145th to receive the new system.

 

Soldiers of the 1-145th are just as excited as their commander about having the new howitzers in the battalion’s inventory.

 

Spc. Kendall Redmond, Charlie Battery, 1-145th, trained on the Paladin at AIT (Advanced Individual Training).

 

“I’m really impressed with the Alpha 6 (Paladin). They’re the most advanced thing the Army has,” said Redmond as he stood next to Crypt Keeper, his assigned howitzer.  

 

Alpha Battery’s Cadet Curtis Nielsen agreed. “When we were at AIT, they told us we would work with the M198. When we found out that we would be switching to the Paladin we were extremely excited. It makes us more combat ready and more effective,” he said.

 

Photo by Maj. Hank McIntire

The 1-145th unit coin commemorating the service of the M198 howitzer to the battalion.

Photo by Maj. Hank McIntire

An M109A6 155mm self-propelled Paladin howitzer crew member pulls the lanyard to fire the weapon for the first time.