Charlie Battery 1/11 satisfies appetite for destruction

23 Nov 2005 | Staff Sgt. Houston F. White Jr.

After months of serving the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) as a provisional infantry force in support of Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, the leathernecks from Battery C, 1st Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment were unleashed in their true role upon the arid Iraqi Desert Nov. 23. Anxious to sharpen their firing skills, as well as calibrate the M198 Howitzers they have become renowned for, the “King of Battle” hit the ground running-- quickly setting up a defensive security perimeter around their gun positions, while establishing communications and preparing 155 mm ammunition for the shoot. Before long, deafening blasts could be heard resonating across the barren canyon from miles away, as the artillerymen rapidly and skillfully placed a virtual hailstorm of high-explosive rounds on target with deadly precision during their “shaking off the rust” session. “This is our first time firing in Iraq since we attached to the 13th MEU,” said SSgt. Dale D. Dune, section chief, Gun #4, Bty. C. “Today we were just testing our weapons to obtain an accurate (battle sight zero), the same way you would BZO an M-16 rifle. We want to be sure that when we fire, we’re hitting the right targets,” mentioned the Houston native. With the ability to reach out and touch enemies more than 15 miles away, the main mission of the “cannon-cockers” of Charlie Battery involves helping the infantrymen they support out of tight spots when engaging the enemy, said Dune. “Our job is to help BLT 2/1 by providing them with indirect fire, immediate assistance and suppression of the enemy on the battlefield. We bring massive firepower to the table that can aid the infantry within minutes during a firefight,” added the 27-year-old. In addition to raining lethal doses of explosive ordnance onto enemy positions during battle, the Marines of Charlie Battery are capable of performing a variety of supplementary missions. “I think what really defines what is special about this battery is their ability to change on the fly and still accomplish the mission,” said Capt. Rick A. Royse, commanding officer, Bty. C. “My Marines must be able to maintain a high skill set while performing their artillery duties and be flexible enough to turn around the next day and perform missions ranging from running motorized patrols to convoy escorts.” “Serving with the 13th MEU you have to be like a chameleon out here,” added Dune. Since we arrived in Iraq we have done everything from convoy security, to running vehicle checkpoints and providing a quick reaction force. It’s challenging, but we’re ready for anything.” Following the artillery shoot, a look of satisfaction at a job well done could be seen not only on the faces of the Marines who manned the Howitzers, but their leaders as well. “It’s a fun and powerful feeling to fire these guns,” remarked Morganton, N.C., native Sgt. Meng Vang, assistant section chief, Gun #4, Bty. C. “Especially when you pull the lanyard, the gun goes off, you hear the loud “boom” and feel the ground vibrate, it’s awesome to know that I’m actually helping blow up the enemy.” “After the shoot today, I absolutely believe my Marines are ready to face the challenges ahead of us,” emphasized Royse, a 38-year-old native of Yakima, Wash. “I was very pleased with today’s results.” “These Marines performed superbly today and I would take this battery (into combat) with me anywhere, anytime” added Seattle native Gunnery Sgt. Brandon C. Hall, Bty. C. They can perform not only their primary (military occupational specialty) as artillerymen, but they’ve done every mission under the sun and performed terrifically.” Although normally cast in a behind-the-scenes role, there can be no doubt that the unseen presence of the “King of Battle” can have a devastating impact on enemy forces in combat. “You might not be able to see us, but you can definitely hear us,” smiled Dune. “And by the time you hear us, it’s already too late.”
13th Marine Expeditionary Unit