‘Proud Americans’ first to fire in Afghanistan
Staff Sgt. Kellin Banks, a native of Laplace, La., gives the command to fire from Combat Outpost Zerok, June 16. Banks serves as one of the howitzer section chiefs, Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. (U.S.Army photo by 1st Lt. Daniel Riggs)
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By 1st Lt Lee Garrison
4th BCT, 1st Infantry Division
PAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – A 1st Infantry Division artillery unit known as the "Proud Americans" Battalion recently added a new accomplishment to its long list of historic firsts.
Last month, 1st Platoon of Bravo Battery, 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery fired in support of an observation point that was taking indirect fire from enemy forces, becoming the first artillery battalion from Fort Riley, Kan., to conduct a fire mission in Afghanistan.
Only a few hours later, 2nd Platoon, Bravo Battery, conducted another fire mission to protect Forward Operating Base Tillman from enemy indirect fire.
Up and down the gun line, Bravo Battery soldiers were thrilled to have an opportunity to fire artillery to protect their fellow brothers-in-arms. For Sgt. 1st Class Adam Freeman, the moment was a rewarding one.
"It was a proud moment to see how all the hard work, attention to detail and determination finally paid off and we were able to quickly and accurately put steel on target," he said.
Pfc. Franklin Miranda shared those thoughts.
"It's a great feeling knowing that we can provide [artillery] support and I'm happy to see that we had an impact," he said.
The "Proud Americans" Battalion has had many firsts throughout its military history. During World War II, they claimed the first artillery round fired in North Africa by an American artillery unit. On D-Day, the battalion was the first artillery unit in action on Omaha beach, firing the first artillery shells of the invasion, and later fired the first shells into Germany.
The fire missions conducted last month marked the first time that the battalion has fired artillery in combat since the Vietnam War. The unit was re-organized as a motorized infantry unit during two previous deployments to Iraq, while the howitzers sat dormant in the motor pool.
Now, the "Proud Americans" are performing the mission they have trained for since the battalion's return from Iraq in 2010.
"I personally don't worry about who shoots first," said Staff Sgt. Jesse West. "The thing that matters to me is how my soldiers reacted when we received the first real-world mission."
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