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Sill soldiers verify HIMARS before leaving for Afghanistan

CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait- As most who have deployed know, a unit draws a large supply of equipment before deploying. So, in anticipation of their deployment, the soldier of Fort Sill's 2nd Battalion, 18th Field Artillery did exactly that.

At the beginning of September 2012, the unit's batteries drew what the Army calls "rolling stock," equipment on wheels, from a nearby camp in Kuwait. During that draw, B Battery drew the HIMARS Launcher.

Just as a child receives a gift at Christmas, the immediate desire was to test it out and make sure that it worked. That is exactly what the soldiers and officers of B Battery did Sept. 9.

"This is our bread and butter! It is always nice to be the first out of the gate, bragging rights, if you will," said Staff Sgt. Christopher Manookin, launcher crew chief said.

That day, the battery occupied a firing range and was able to test fire, or verify their launchers. The morning of the verification, soldiers and officers worked tirelessly to ensure safe and accurate fires. As the morning turned into afternoon, the calculations were made and the fires were deemed safe to verify the launchers, which was aided by the battery's training rehearsal prior to the verification.

"Rehearsals played a key role in making this verification successful," said 1st Lt. Scott Ardis, battery fire direction officer.

Two at a time, the launchers received their firing data from the Battery Fire Direction Center, moved to the firing position, and fired their rockets. Communication among all parties flowed smoothly.

1st Sgt. Kevin Vanliew, said "outstanding NCO mentorship" played a substantial part in the success of the verification.

And as the smoke cleared, the HIMARS were judged qualified and ready for use in Theater Operations.

Written by 1st Lt. David Niemczura, 2nd Battalion, 18th Field Artillery Regiment, Fort Sill

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