2nd ID families watch as rockets take flight
BOAR 1 TRAINING AREA, South Korea — The “rippers” burned their way through the foggy fall landscape of Rocket Valley just past the northeastern edge of Gyeonggi Province on Tuesday, to the delight of Army wives and children such as Bennie Olsen, 9.
“It was cool,” Olsen said after the booms faded from two practice ripper rockets. “Fireworks were really the only thing I’d seen before.”
Olsen came with his mother and two sisters to the 2nd Infantry Division’s 6th Battalion, 37th Field Artillery family day, to watch what his father, Pfc. Ben Olsen, does for a living.
About 20 family members were on hand to watch the rockets fly while the soldiers completed their qualifications.
“My daughter asks what I do and it’s hard to tell her, ‘Daddy shoots rockets for a living,’” said Pfc. Casey Mack, whose wife watched with their daughters, aged 3 and 1.
Most soldiers with families agreed with Mack. They can talk about work but they can’t convey the smell of the dirt or the rattles of the tracked vehicles as they roll over the rocks.
“It’s good for them to see what I actually do here,” said ammunition specialist Spc. Joshua Davis. Describing the job to his family can be difficult, “especially when you add all of the military jargon to it.”
Several of the children also got front row views from the drivers’ seats of the Multiple Launch Rocket System vehicles while sitting on soldiers’ laps.
“I’m excited that my son gets to see it,” said Davis’s wife, Lindsey, about her son, Avin, 1. “It’s something for him to look back on when he gets older and sees the pictures.”
The event attracted an above-average level of South Korean media attendance, with one outlet describing it as the first U.S. military exercise since North Korea’s nuclear test.
The exercise, actually part of routine qualifications, was scheduled months in advance, Army officials said.
The battalion is certifying 18 launchers, six fire direction centers and 23 ammunition crews this week, said 6-37 commanding officer Lt. Col. David Danikowski.
Each crew also must fire three rockets successfully, which qualifies them and the fire direction centers for 180 days.
“Because there is so much turnover in Korea, we do three of these every year so we can maintain qualified crews,” Danikowski said.