FORT SILL, Okla. –
Soldiers assigned to the 1st Battalion, 160th Field Artillery Regiment, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team hosted their second annual family day and live-fire demonstration during the battalion’s annual training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, May 20.
“I think it’s [important] for them to come out because they can fully understand what we do,” said Spc. Braxton Pennington, a fire control specialist with Bravo Battery, 1-160 FA. “Trying to explain in words is more difficult, but for them to get to see and view the ways we operate is pretty important to me and my family. It gives more in depth information on just what we do as a unit and as a battalion.”
For the demonstration, the Soldiers were divided into three batteries, Alpha Battery, Bravo Battery and Charlie Battery. Each battery was equipped with three howitzers. Both Alpha and Bravo Battery were equipped with M119 howitzers, while Charlie Battery was equipped with three M777.
Jami Massey, the mother of Spc. Noah Marshall said she attended last year’s live-fire demonstration and that these events help families understand what their Soldiers do when away from home.
“It helps me to kind of understand and see in-person what he does: safety and all the policies that they practice and put into use,” Massey said. “It really makes me want to encourage the parents that don’t get a chance to come and see what their families are doing.”
Behind the firing line sat the Soldiers' friends and families who watched with enthusiasm as their loved ones prepared to fire. The audience was filled with Soldiers’ excited spouses, children, parents and more.
During the live-fire demonstration, the families were able to see the process their Soldiers go through when they fire, what kind of ammunition they use, and the types of firing orders they take in the field.
Throughout the firing iterations, the Soldiers displayed outstanding accuracy and coordination which served as a testament to their knowledge, skill, professionalism and determination to perform their jobs effectively and will to serve their community.
After the firing was over and all weapons had been cleared, families were given the chance to walk down to the firing line and interact with the Soldiers and the cannons. This gave the Soldiers the opportunity to share with their families the intricacies of the machinery and their roles in operating them while also providing their families with a hands-on experience.
One of the key reasons why this family day event is so significant is the effect that it has on the relationships between the Soldiers, their families and the community.
The insight provided to the families of the artillery Soldiers allows them to understand what it is that their loved one does, what it takes, what their training looks like, and what they’ll do while they are training or deployed overseas.
This kind of exposure not only offers families understanding and clarity, but also trust and peace of mind, seeing that their Soldier is well-trained, proficient at their job, and determined to serve and protect.
To many of the Soldiers, the attendance of their loved ones and the fact that they can give their families some insight on what it is that they do and why it’s important provides a huge amount of support that the Soldiers need from their families.
“I think it’s very important because they get to see what all we strive to do every day out here and all the hard work we put into this,” said Spc. Noah Marshall, a signal support specialist with Headquarters Battery, 1-160 FA.
“Just being able to let them see what we do just feels like an achievement for ourselves to show the people that raised us, or the people that were there our whole lives that what we do, we’re doing it for them. It’s a motivation for me and it’s so important because it shows me that my family’s always behind me. They’ll always support me. They’re always pushing me forward.”