June 1, 2011 —
Soldiers await the delivery of an M119 howitzer to their mountain outpost in Spera District, Afghanistan. Photo by U.S. Army Pfc. Christopher Holton.
KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan (May 31, 2011) — Soldiers from Task Force Duke’s 1st Battalion, 6th Field Artillery Regiment, supporting combat operations in Serpa District, Khowst Province, Afghanistan, made battalion history with the unit’s first combat air assault May 13.
First Platoon, Battery A, 1st Bn., 6th FA Regt., 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Task Force Duke, successfully completed the first air assault mission in the battalion’s long and decorated history May 19.
On May 13, two M119 howitzers, the main artillery piece used by the battalion, were strapped to the bottoms of CH-47 Chinooks, and air lifted individually to a mountain outpost in Spera.
Soldiers of Btry. A flew along with their artillery to begin preparations for the mission that lay before them.
The mission objective was to provide artillery support for 3rd BCT, 1st Inf. Div., TF Duke Soldiers from the 6th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regt., and the 1st Bn, 26th Inf. Regt., as they located and cleared enemy forces in the area.
Btry. A’s 1st Plt. accepted the challenge knowing their role would be crucial if those forward troops encountered strong resistance.
“The entire platoon felt honored to be a part of this event, and to be selected to do it out of all the platoons in the battery,” said U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Benjamin Sasaki, Fayetteville, N.C., native, and leader of 1st Plt.
Besides being ready to provide artillery support at a moment’s notice and working on position improvement for their howitzers, they also pulled regular guard shifts on the outpost.
“We fired 15 high-explosive rounds and 18 illumination rounds,” said Sasaki.
“Although we didn’t get to fire as much as we would like, we were always ready to provide artillery support for anyone in the area of operations that called, and I believe that constitutes mission success,” he added.
U.S. Army Capt. Joseph Mroszczyk, Co. A’s commander, and a Syracuse, N.Y., native, said the mission produced many good results.
“The platoon did an outstanding job working through austere conditions at an extremely high elevation. I’ m proud of their contribution to the fight,” he said.
“The Soldiers performed extraordinarily, and morale was high for the entire mission. The platoon sergeant and I are extremely proud of all of them,” said Sasaki.