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Staff Sgt. Christopher Louis of Alpha Company, 15th Field Artillery, 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, explains the firing procedure for a Paladin Howitzer on Tuesday. The soldiers gathered at a firing point north of Camp Casey to participate in an invasion scenario with other units at different locations.

Staff Sgt. Christopher Louis of Alpha Company, 15th Field Artillery, 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, explains the firing procedure for a Paladin Howitzer on Tuesday. The soldiers gathered at a firing point north of Camp Casey to participate in an invasion scenario with other units at different locations. (Erik Slavin / S&S)

Staff Sgt. Christopher Louis of Alpha Company, 15th Field Artillery, 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, explains the firing procedure for a Paladin Howitzer on Tuesday. The soldiers gathered at a firing point north of Camp Casey to participate in an invasion scenario with other units at different locations.

Staff Sgt. Christopher Louis of Alpha Company, 15th Field Artillery, 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, explains the firing procedure for a Paladin Howitzer on Tuesday. The soldiers gathered at a firing point north of Camp Casey to participate in an invasion scenario with other units at different locations. (Erik Slavin / S&S)

Paladin Howitzers wait their turns to blast their 155mm ammunition skyward at a firing point about 20 minutes north of Camp Casey on Tuesday. The Paladins, from the 15th Field Artillery, 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, participated in an invasion scenario with other units at different locations.

Paladin Howitzers wait their turns to blast their 155mm ammunition skyward at a firing point about 20 minutes north of Camp Casey on Tuesday. The Paladins, from the 15th Field Artillery, 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, participated in an invasion scenario with other units at different locations. (Erik Slavin / S&S)

JEONGOK, South Korea — From Highway 37, the concussions sounded like nearby lightning strikes from the remnants of Typhoon Nari.

The noise actually came from about a half-mile away on a mud-saturated plot bordering a farm, where the 2nd Infantry Division’s 1st Battalion, 15th Field Artillery, fired howitzer rounds Tuesday as part of an invasion scenario.

Some soldiers get used to the booming sound of outgoing 155mm rounds, but most crewmembers say they still brace for the unnatural sound.

“When I’m standing outside, I still jump every time,” said 19-year artillery veteran Staff Sgt. Christopher Louis, of Alpha Battery. “But it’s a good adrenaline rush.”

A newer soldier put it more bluntly.

“Men like it when things go boom,” Pvt. Joshua Medina said.

The battalion was scheduled to fire 1,000 training and high-explosive rounds during the six-day exercise, officials said.

Scouts from the 4th Battalion, 7th Cavalry, located at the Twin Bridges training area, also coordinated their part in the scenario with the artillery unit. Soldiers from the 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team participated from nearby Rodriguez Range.

At Jeongok, the soldiers continued firing through consistent rains and the odors of nearby farms mixing with the clay-colored field slurry.

“Regardless of what the weather is like, we’re going to get the mission done,” Medina said.

The ankle-deep mud stole the shoe off the foot of a soldier posing as an embedded reporter, another aspect of the exercise.

Several public affairs soldiers posed as reporters from outlets like Fox News and Rolling Stone as part of the 2nd ID’s ongoing “media on the battlefield” training for its units.

Unlike previous media training, the artillery soldiers weren’t told the reporters were fakes.

Some of the soldiers were more protective than usual of information and photos.

However, soldiers presented to the media group remained polite and said they welcomed the coverage. “Everybody at home asks, ‘What do you do; what do you do?’ ” Medina said. “This way, they can get a look at it, instead of us just telling them.”

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