Training in South Korea ends with gun firing
JEONGOK, South Korea — As the smoke wafted past the guns of five Paladin howitzer vehicles, Sgt. Brian Badgero nodded with respect at the one stamped “Bipolar.”
“I would love to have that gun back at Fort Sill,” said Badgero, an ammunition section chief.
Badgero and about 80 others from 2nd Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment, Battery B fired the 155 mm weapons at a firing point north of Dongducheon on Thursday as a final piece of the larger Reception, Staging, Onward Movement and Integration exercise that ended Saturday for most in South Korea.
The Fort Sill, Okla., unit has been integrated into the 2nd Infantry Division’s 1st Battalion, 15th Field Artillery out of Camp Hovey.
The Paladins fired high explosive rounds, which weigh 100 pounds each, at a target about a mile and a half downrange, soldiers said.
The M109A6 versions of the Paladin were built in the mid-1990s and don’t have the same kinks as the older models the Fort Sill soldiers use, Badgero said.
However, the rounds that the relatively new Paladins used were near relics. Soldiers said they dated back several decades and had the rust to show it.
The age doesn’t really change anything about its impact, though soldiers said they inspected the rounds for dents and defects.
The main difference soldiers faced firing in South Korea were the restrictions caused by firing in an area surrounded by farms and not far from villages.
“In the States, there is more room to maneuver,” said platoon Sgt. 1st Class Ronald Charley.
The battery had been training for this mission since January with such restrictions in mind, Charley said.
The lack of movement didn’t dull the rattling sensation of a round firing off into the mountains.
“It’s like standing on an earthquake. It’s great,” said Spc. Joe Fountain.
The soldiers were scheduled to continue firing Paladins on Friday before moving to Rodriguez Range for small-arms training and then leaving later this month.