HomeNewsArticle Display

Marines overcome hardships, prepare for the battlefield

Lance Cpl. Nathaniel Cintron, 5th Battalion 14 Marines cannoneer, pulls a lanyard to activate the firing mechanism in the M777 A2 Howitzer Aug. 15, 2015, in Guernsey, Wyoming. As the number one man on the gun, his job is to fire the M777 A2 Howitzer when given the command ‘fire’ by the gun chief. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

Lance Cpl. Nathaniel Cintron, 5th Battalion 14 Marines cannoneer, pulls a lanyard to activate the firing mechanism in the M777 A2 Howitzer Aug. 15, 2015, in Guernsey, Wyoming. As the number one man on the gun, his job is to fire the M777 A2 Howitzer when given the command ‘fire’ by the gun chief. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

A Marine from Quebec Battery, 5th Battalion 14 Marines, looks out onto the countryside as he waits for the artillery guns to emplace at his position Aug. 14, 2015, in Guernsey, Wyoming. Before the guns emplace, an advanced party arrives at the scene where the Marines want to fire. These Marines set up where the guns will be laid, communications and a fire direction center for operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

A Marine from Quebec Battery, 5th Battalion 14 Marines, looks out onto the countryside as he waits for the artillery guns to emplace at his position Aug. 14, 2015, in Guernsey, Wyoming. Before the guns emplace, an advanced party arrives at the scene where the Marines want to fire. These Marines set up where the guns will be laid, communications and a fire direction center for operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

Marines from Quebec Battery, 5th Battalion 14 Marines, wait for a fire mission Aug. 15, 2015, in Guernsey, Wyoming. Q Battery, a Marine reserve artillery battery, conducted a live-fire exercise for four days to gain proficiency in their craft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

Marines from Quebec Battery, 5th Battalion 14 Marines, wait for a fire mission Aug. 15, 2015, in Guernsey, Wyoming. Q Battery, a Marine reserve artillery battery, conducted a live-fire exercise for four days to gain proficiency in their craft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

Marines from Quebec Battery, 5th Battalion 14 Marines, unload equipment Aug. 13, 2015, at Camp Guernsey, Wyoming. Quebec Battery Marines, a reserve unit that stage out of Buckley AFB, readied equipment the night before they hit the countryside for a three-day live fire exercise. The unit completes live fire exercises during the year to stay proficient at their craft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

Marines from Quebec Battery, 5th Battalion 14 Marines, unload equipment Aug. 13, 2015, at Camp Guernsey, Wyoming. Quebec Battery Marines, a reserve unit that stage out of Buckley AFB, readied equipment the night before they hit the countryside for a three-day live fire exercise. The unit completes live fire exercises during the year to stay proficient at their craft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

Marines from Quebec Battery, 5th Battalion 14 Marines, communicate data collected from the fire direction center to officers in the field Aug. 14, 2015, in Guernsey, Wyoming. The data collection center is the brain of an artillery battery, targeting and analyzing data from fire missions to insure the guns are firing as accurately as possible. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

Marines from Quebec Battery, 5th Battalion 14 Marines, communicate data collected from the fire direction center to officers in the field Aug. 14, 2015, in Guernsey, Wyoming. The data collection center is the brain of an artillery battery, targeting and analyzing data from fire missions to insure the guns are firing as accurately as possible. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

1st Lt. Alexander Purdy, 5th Battalion 14 Marines artillery officer, looks through a sight to get a calculation of where the artillery gun should be emplaced Aug. 14, 2015, in Guernsey, Wyoming. Trigonometry is used to emplace and align an artillery piece in order to ensure the most accurate fire. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

1st Lt. Alexander Purdy, 5th Battalion 14 Marines artillery officer, looks through a sight to get a calculation of where the artillery gun should be emplaced Aug. 14, 2015, in Guernsey, Wyoming. Trigonometry is used to emplace and align an artillery piece in order to ensure the most accurate fire. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

Marines from Quebec Battery, 5th Battalion 14 Marines, patrol around an artillery position Aug. 15, 2015, in Guernsey, Wyoming. The Marines from Q Battery practice patrols to secure an area where guns are emplaced. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

Marines from Quebec Battery, 5th Battalion 14 Marines, patrol around an artillery position Aug. 15, 2015, in Guernsey, Wyoming. The Marines from Q Battery practice patrols to secure an area where guns are emplaced. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

Marines from Quebec Battery, 5th Battalion 14 Marines, push a M777 A2 Howitzer toward an awaiting truck to be hauled up to Camp Guernsey, Wyoming, Aug. 13, 2015, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. Q Battery is a Marine reserve unit that stages out Buckley AFB and conducted a three-day live fire exercise in Guernsey, Wyoming. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

Marines from Quebec Battery, 5th Battalion 14 Marines, push a M777 A2 Howitzer toward an awaiting truck to be hauled up to Camp Guernsey, Wyoming, Aug. 13, 2015, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. Q Battery is a Marine reserve unit that stages out Buckley AFB and conducted a three-day live fire exercise in Guernsey, Wyoming. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

Lance Cpl. Daniil Kravchuk, Quebec Battery towed artillery systems technician, stands awaiting a fire mission Aug. 15, 2015, in Guernsey, Wyoming. Kravchuk, an active duty Marine, brings experience and knowledge to the reserve battery due to his experience as a ‘gun doc’ in the Fleet. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

Lance Cpl. Daniil Kravchuk, Quebec Battery towed artillery systems technician, stands awaiting a fire mission Aug. 15, 2015, in Guernsey, Wyoming. Kravchuk, an active duty Marine, brings experience and knowledge to the reserve battery due to his experience as a ‘gun doc’ in the Fleet. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

Marines from Quebec Battery, 5th Battalion 14 Marines, honor the five fallen service members of Chattanooga, Tennessee, on Aug. 15, 2015, in Guernsey, Wyoming. The Marines took time to recognize the sacrifices their brothers make and remember those who have fallen in the line of duty. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 10 of 14

Marines from Quebec Battery, 5th Battalion 14 Marines, honor the five fallen service members of Chattanooga, Tennessee, on Aug. 15, 2015, in Guernsey, Wyoming. The Marines took time to recognize the sacrifices their brothers make and remember those who have fallen in the line of duty. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

Marines from Quebec Battery, 5th Battalion 14 Marines, fire a round out of a M777 A2 Howitzer during a training exercise Aug. 15, 2015, in Guernsey, Wyoming. Q Battery, a Marine reserve artillery battery, conducted a live-fire exercise for four days to gain proficiency in their craft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 11 of 14

Marines from Quebec Battery, 5th Battalion 14 Marines, fire a round out of a M777 A2 Howitzer during a training exercise Aug. 15, 2015, in Guernsey, Wyoming. Q Battery, a Marine reserve artillery battery, conducted a live-fire exercise for four days to gain proficiency in their craft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

Sgt. John Frost, Quebec Battery, 5th Battalion 14 Marines fire direction center, readies a weather balloon which will allow for meteorological measurements Aug. 14, 2015, in Guernsey, Wyoming. This Marine uses meteorological equipment to collect data that will be used in the calculations that determine the angles of an artillery gun before firing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 12 of 14

Sgt. John Frost, Quebec Battery, 5th Battalion 14 Marines fire direction center, readies a weather balloon which will allow for meteorological measurements Aug. 14, 2015, in Guernsey, Wyoming. This Marine uses meteorological equipment to collect data that will be used in the calculations that determine the angles of an artillery gun before firing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

Sgt. John Frost and Lance Cpl. Joshua Weemes, Quebec Battery, 5th Battalion 14 Marines fire direction center, conduct measurements Aug. 14, 2015, in Guernsey, Wyoming. These Marines use meteorological equipment to collect data that will be used in the calculations that determine the angles of an artillery gun before firing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 13 of 14

Sgt. John Frost and Lance Cpl. Joshua Weemes, Quebec Battery, 5th Battalion 14 Marines fire direction center, conduct measurements Aug. 14, 2015, in Guernsey, Wyoming. These Marines use meteorological equipment to collect data that will be used in the calculations that determine the angles of an artillery gun before firing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

Marines from Quebec Battery, 5th Battalion 14 Marines, practice transporting a wounded Marine Aug. 15, 2015, in Guernsey, Wyoming. Practicing the correct procedures when caring for and transporting a wounded Marine can save lives during combat. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 14 of 14

Marines from Quebec Battery, 5th Battalion 14 Marines, practice transporting a wounded Marine Aug. 15, 2015, in Guernsey, Wyoming. Practicing the correct procedures when caring for and transporting a wounded Marine can save lives during combat. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- "Fire mission!" comes out over the radio and creates a frenzy in the gun pit, as each Marine moves rapidly into position to fire the M777 A2 Howitzer. Within seconds, a round is loaded and a Marine stands waiting for the command to fire. 'Fire!' the chief yells, after a last glance at the sights. A thunderous boom shakes the ground as the 100-pound round is ejected out of the barrel. Dirt and gun powder fill the air as the other Howitzers on the line follow suit.  Miles away, black clouds appear on a hillside identifying where the rounds impacted. Quebec Battery, 5th Battalion 14th Marines, has made its presence known in Guernsey, Wyoming. 

Q Battery is a reserve Marine artillery unit staged out of Buckley Air Force Base. Recently, Q Battery, which is made up of over 150 Marines, took to the countryside for three days to train at Camp Guernsey. 

"Every single Marine plays a huge role in making those guns go boom," said Gunnery Sgt. Zachary Storrud, Q Battery 5/14 battery gunnery sergeant. "Everyone in artillery needs to be there. It's probably the coolest military occupational specialty in the Marine Corps, because we have 13 to 14 different MOS's that do one job, which is make those guns go boom."

Firing artillery is much more complex than just point and shoot. From fire direction control, to communications, to the gun line, the choreography of artillery takes many men with varying specialties to put rounds down range effectively.

Before a Howitzer can fire, an advanced party must scout out an area that the Marines feel is appropriate to fire from. When the advanced party reaches an area they feel comfortable firing from, they scout the area for any signs of enemy combatants before calling in the guns. Once an area is deemed safe, communications, survey, and fire direction control are set up and await the arrival of the guns.

When the guns arrive on scene, they are brought to pre-determined locations marked with aiming posts which help align the guns. Marines use compasses to correctly place the guns on a line they feel will give them accurate fire. Once in line, they lay the guns in place and ready them to be fired.

Geometry is used to calculate the correct position the gun needs to be in for accurate fire. When a round impacts, a forward observer radios back whether the round was on target or if adjustments need to be made. If the round was off target, data collected from the forward observer will be used by fire direction control to calculate what adjustment needs to be made to the position of the gun, which are radioed to the gun line.

"The howitzers have to get laid on an azimuth of fire and it's done by trigonometry," Storrud said. "Once that's done, then they pick a firing point. After the firing point is done, then they can start getting missions."

As a reserve unit, Q Battery only has an opportunity to fire live rounds a few times out of the year. Because of this, these types of exercises are crucial in keeping the Marines proficient at their craft.

"You always learn something new every time you go out," said Lance Cpl. Ulises Araiza, Q Battery 5/14 cannoneer. "Being in the reserves as a cannoneer, you don't get as much experience as active duty does."

This three-day field-operation in Guernsey came with its challenges for Q Battery. Not only was a new staff directing operations, but many of the reservists were doing jobs they hadn't done before.

"We put new guys in new places," Storrud said. "Anytime you put someone new in a new position or a new billet, you degrade the quality. It wasn't due to the Marines, but due to the new jobs. We can't continue to keep our top dogs in the same positions. You have to rotate guys through so we get a wealth of knowledge."

Although the exercise wasn't as clean as Q Battery would have liked, a lot of insight came out of the three-day field-op.

"I thought some of the pluses were we actually came together as a staff and we're now implementing new procedures for drill dates for when we go out to the field and shoot artillery," Storrud said. "I think it was a good thing that we didn't have the best field-op because we learned as a battery what some of our downfalls were and where we can improve and are now putting in procedures for that."

One of the staff members that helps train the reservists, Lance Cpl. Daniil Kravchuk, Q Battery 5/14 towed artillery systems technician, comes from the Fleet and brings experience and knowledge to the reserve battery. As a 'gun doc,' he is able to give valuable training to reservists whose job is to maintain the Howitzer.

"Coming out here, I like to think I bring experience here that other individuals don't have," Kravchuk said. "I am able to pass that down to the reserve artillery mechanics and teach them and give them real world scenarios they can use and learn from."

Active duty Marines like Kravchuk help to train the reservists and keep them up to speed with what is expected from a Marine artillery battery. Although Q Battery was met with challenges during the exercise, it was apparent these Marines are motivated warriors. 

"They are dedicated hard working Marines and they want to be there," said Kravchuk. "The guys out there do go the extra mile, they care about their job. We have fantastic chiefs and fantastic cannoneers. Quebec Battery is dedicated." 

Quebec Battery is a motivated, hardworking group of Marines. Despite facing hardships during the exercise due to new positions within the battery and limited time conducting live-fire exercises, the Marines came together and showed they can bring the fight to the enemy anytime, anywhere.
USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.