Rail gunner newsletter 2nd quarter 2013


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Rail gunner newsletter 2nd quarter 2013

  1. 1. Inside thisissueMessage fromRG6/RG9267th Dishes up excellence 3‘Deep Strike’ Bn spares timefor student bowlers4Black Knights exercise theirMLRS muscles5Rail Gunners finish strong intournament641st Fires Bde integratescombatives; sets example7Rail Gunners welcome homelocal vet.9A Battery, 2-20th FAR de-ploys to Kuwait10The Rail GunnerMonthly StaffCommanderCOL William E. McRaeCommand Sgt. Maj.CSM Antonio DunstonRail Gunner PAOCPT John FarmerNCOICSGT Garett HernandezAs dawn breaks on a cool springmorning, Soldiers in their outer tacticalvests and advanced combat helmets withassigned weapons form a staggered lineoutside a Mobile Kitchen Trailer. TheseSoldiers are waiting to do their part in acompetition. This competition is not abouthow well the waiting Soldiers will do tacti-cally but how well they are fed.The Food Service section of the67th Forward Support Company, 2nd Bat-talion, 20th Field Artillery Regiment, 41stFires Brigade, was selected to represent the1st Cavalry Division in the Philip A. Con-nelly Award program, March 20, and com-peted against other units within III Corps.The Philip A. Connelly Competi-tion was started in 1968, back then it wasknown as the “best mess” competition, torecognize excellence in the Army’s FoodService.According to the QuartermasterSchool website, the late Philip A. ConnellyStory and photos bySgt. Garett Hernandez41st Fires Brigade, Public AffairsVOLUME 13 THE RAIL GUNNER NEWSLETTER ISSUE 2Continues on pg. 3Pfc. Anthony Salas, a food service specialist, grills mushrooms and peppers that will be served duringlunch. The Food Service section of the 67th Field Support Company, 2nd Battalion, 20th Field ArtilleryRegiment, 41st Fires Brigade, was selected to compete in the III Corps level Philip A. Connelly Awardprogram, of which the winner will go on to compete at the U.S. Army Forces Command level (U.S. Armyphoto by Sgt. Garett Hernandez, 41st Fires Brigade Public Affairs).The Rail Gunner Newsletter May 2013-1-
  2. 2. Rail Gunner 6 & 9 Sendpians don’t stop training once the goldmedal is earned; they continue tosharpen their skills. We must have thesame mindset. The Soldier’s Creedsays, “I will never quit. I will neveraccept defeat.” We all aspire to be apart of an elite, professional organiza-tion, and creating such an organizationrequires a relentless pursuit of excel-lence every day.Finally, Command Sgt. Maj.Dunston and I urge you to take advan-tage of the beautiful weather we’vebeen enjoying and spend time withyour family and friends. Without thelove and support of those who are clos-est to us our chosen career would bethat much harder on us. As always -Be safe! There is no sadder occasionthan losing a friend, family member orteammate. Look out for one another,have fun, and enjoy the amazing stateof Texas.- Rail Gunner 6ColonelWilliam E. McRae41st Fires Brigade CDRCommand Sergeant MajorHello Rail Gunners and Rail GunnerFamily,Spring is here and it hasbrought some excellent weather fortraining; not too cold and still not toohot. Despite current budget restraintsand a climate of fiscal uncertainty, wewill still continue to train. We willtrain, both here at Fort Hood and atthe National Training Center at FortIrwin, California. Additionally, nicerweather brings with it the chance tofinally enjoy many outdoor recrea-tional activities.As Soldiers, it is importantthat we be ready to answer our na-tion’s call to defend freedom any-where in the world. We can’t waituntil we’re on the plane or standing ina combat zone to do our best; that ef-fort must be made now – every day.We must give 100%, dig deeper, andgive some more, before we find our-selves in harms way.If you know you need im-provement, take whatever measuresnecessary to improve. If you are goodat what you’re doing, get better. Ifyou have achieved excellence, con-tinue on your path and reach forgreater things. I urge everyone to bevigilant against complacency. Olym-Antonio Dunston41st Fires Brigade CSMIt is an honor and a privilegeto see our Warriors, day in and dayout, continue to set new standards inour profession of arms. As a profes-sional organization, we must continueto raise the bar in everything we do.Excellence and a strict adherence tostandards and discipline are of utmostimportance.There are two Soldiers in thisbrigade that have exemplified thiscommitment to excellence of which Ispeak and I want to let the brigadeknow how proud I am of Spc. LykaCabigon, the brigade Soldier of theQuarter and Sgt. Marcella Hunt, thebrigade NCO of the Quarter.These two Soldiers epitomizewho we are as Rail Gunners and Ithank them for their dedication toduty and upholding the Army values.- Rail Gunner 9-2-VOLUME 13, ISSUE 2 THE RAIL GUNNER NEWSLETTER MAY 2013
  3. 3. started the competition with the goal toimprove the quality of Army food.“I’m just happy to competeand show off my skills against otherunits in the Army,” said Pfc. AnthonySalas, a food service specialist andBaltimore native.The Soldiers were judged in anumber of areas to include sanitation,food presentation and field site setup.The team received high marks in theseareas despite the challenges of the fieldenvironment.The night before the 67th FSCwas to be judged, high winds and rainthreatened to delay the morning’sbreakfast meal.“High winds took down ourdining tent but with help of the unit,we got everything up by servingtime,” said Sgt. 1st Class HelenaMahkee, senior Food Service Opera-tions Sergeant, 67th FSC.After the dining tent was setback up, the only sign of the previ-ous night’s bad weather was the mudleft by the rain. Following breakfastthe food service team moved intopreparing lunch. On the menu wassteak, grilled mushrooms and pep-pers and boiled corn.The 67th FSC food servicesection claimed the 1st Cavalry Divi-sion win on March 20. The sectioncompeted at the III Corps level butwas unable to bring home a secondvictory.In the end, 4th SustainmentBrigade, 13th Sustainment Command(Expeditionary) was selected as the IIICorps champions.The Rail Gunners look forwardto next year’s competition and willtake the lessons learned this year toheart in preparation for next time.In the grey morning light just before the sun rises, the Soldiers are fed in preparation for the morning meal before they begin training for theday. The Food Service section of the 67th Field Support Company, 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery Regiment, 41st Fires Brigade, was judgedfor the 1st Cavalry Division level of the Philip A. Connelly Award program and was selected to compete at the III Corps level, March, 20 (U.S.Army photo by Sgt. Garett Hernandez, 41st Fires Brigade Public Affairs).-3-VOLUME 13, ISSUE 2 THE RAIL GUNNER NEWSLETTER MAY 2013
  4. 4. Story and photos bySgt. Garett Hernandez41st Fires Brigade, Public AffairsSoldiers from 1st Battal-ion, 21st Field Artillery Regiment“First Strike,” 41st Fires Brigade,helped coach and chaperon stu-dents from the unit’s adoptedschool, Manor Middle School,while the students bowled March4 and 6 in Killeen, Texas.The students took a breakfrom their typical physical educa-tion class to apply what they havelearned in the gym to the bowlingalley. The middle school studentshave been learning about thesport of bowling at school andwere brought to a local bowlingalley to utilize their new foundskills.“It’s a great way to stayphysically active. It’s a sport thatall ages can do, anybody can doit,” said Tarsha Graves, head ofthe school’s physical educationdepartment.Students from the sixthand seventh grades, 160 total,took turns bowling while the Sol-diers from the First Strike Battal-ion gave pointers on form andtechnique.“It was fun and exciting,”said Spc. Tyler Ferguson, Multi-ple Launch Rocket System crew-member, A Battery, 1st Bn., 21stFAR, 41st Fires Bde. “The kidshad fun and I had fun, everyonehad fun.”Spc. Tyler Ferguson, Multiple Launch Rocket System crewmember, A Battery, 1st Battalion,21st Field Artillery Regiment, 41st Fires Brigade, helps a student, from Manor MiddleSchool, bowl during a school field trip to a local bowling alley, March 6 in Killeen, Texas(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Garett Hernandez, 41st Fires Brigade Public Affairs).Spc. Christopher Brown, a Multiple Launch Rocket System Operations and Fire DirectionSpecialist with A Battery, 1st Battalion, 21st Field Artillery Regiment, 41st Fires Brigade,helps a student from Manor Middle School with his bowling technique March 6, at a Killeen,Texas, bowling alley (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Garett Hernandez, 41st Fires Brigade PublicAffairs).-4-VOLUME 13, ISSUE 2 THE RAIL GUNNER NEWSLETTER MAY 2013
  5. 5. During the exerciseArredondo’s section wasresponsible for relaying the firemissions to the crews within theMLRS.“The biggest difficulty … ishaving to separate yourself fromthe Soldiers and learning thatyou now have that leadershipposition,” said Arredondo.The Battery OperationCenter is responsible for tacticalmovements and positioning of thebattery, it maintains all tacticaldata such as maps andThe late winter’s morningstarted with heavy cloudshanging in the sky. From acrossthe valley a loud mechanical noisecould be heard as a MultipleLaunch Rocket System moved tothe point from which it would fire.Once at its assigned area, theMLRS positioned its deadly cargotoward the enemy. Then,suddenly, a tremendous boomrocked the valley.Soldiers from B Battery,2nd Battalion, 20th FieldArtillery Regiment, 41st FiresBrigade, conducted a live fireexercise, Jan. 29 on Fort Hood.The battery, known as theBlack Knights, had eight MLRScrews participate in the exercise.The exercise was designed toqualify and certify each of theMLRS crews on their assignedweapon system. An MLRS crewmust qualify once every sixmonths to stay proficient.This exercise was a specialone for Cpl. Chad Arredondo, aMultiple Launch Rocket Systemoperational fire directionspecialist with the Black Knights,who was the noncommissionedofficer-in-charge of the JumpBattery Operation Center. Thiswas the first time the battery hasplaced a corporal in this position,said Capt. Hector Cantillo, thebattery commander.“It lets me know that myleadership has the trust in me toperform this job at the standardthat they need,” said Arredondo.Arredondo a Waxahachie,Texas native, was promoted tocorporal during the third week ofJanuary.metrological data, and providesfire direction for the battery.The Jump BOC acts as amobile Battery Operation Centershould the situation call for sucha need, Arredondo said.The battery safely andsuccessfully certified all crewsduring this exercise.Cpl. Chad Arredondo (left),Spc. Rudy Gastelum (center)and Spc. Derrick White (right),Soldiers from B Battery, 2ndBattalion, 20th Field ArtilleryRegiment, 41st Fires Brigade,pose for a picture outside theirBattery Operation Center dur-ing the battery’s live fire exer-cise at Fort Hood, Texas, Jan.29. These Soldiers are respon-sible for running the JumpBattery Operation Center(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Ga-rett Hernandez, 41st FiresBrigade Public Affairs).Soldiers from B Battery, 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery Regiment, 41st FiresBrigade, participate in a live fire exercise at Fort Hood, Texas Jan. 29. The exer-cise was designed to qualify and certify each of the MLRS crews on their assignedweapon system. An MLRS crew must qualify once every six months to stay profi-cient (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Garett Hernandez, 41st Fires Brigade Public Af-fairs).Story and photos bySgt. Garett Hernandez41st Fires Brigade, Public Affairs-5-VOLUME 13, ISSUE 2 THE RAIL GUNNER NEWSLETTER MAY 2013
  6. 6. Green, the boxing coach for theRail Gunner combatives team.Out of the 11 that startedthe tournament, five made it tothe final day of competition, threeof which battled for first place intheir weight class. One Soldier,Spc. Richard Cole, last year’s wel-terweight champion, was elimi-nated early in the tournamentdue to a cracked rib.Coming into the champion-ship rounds, Sgt. Simon Pequeno,Spc. Micah Barro and Capt. Na-than Thobaben fought for firstplace in different weight classes.Both Pequeno and Barro took thewin in their class.“We came in here with two-thirds of a team … and we stilltook second,” said Sgt. Maj. Timo-thy Wayne, the operations ser-geant major for 1st Battalion,During the four days of the2013 Fort Hood Combatives Tour-nament, 228 Soldiers competedagainst each other in eight differ-ent weight classes, and of those,11 belonged to the 41st Fires Bri-gade “Rail Gunners” Team.For those 11 Rail Gunners,the pressure was on. Trainingstarted in November for thisyear’s combatives tournament.The 41st Fires Bde. tookfirst place in the 2012 tourna-ment and runner-up honors in the2011 tournament.“I believe we trained thehardest out of every one on post.We trained every day since No-vember,” said 2nd Lt. Terrence21st Field Artillery Regiment,41st Fires Bde.Leading into the champi-onship bouts, 3rd Cavalry Regi-ment was in first place and 1stBrigade Combat Team, 1st Cav-alry Division, was second overallin the team standings, while the41st Fires Bde. started the nightoff in third.“We were down by 10points yesterday,” Green said.As a whole, the Rail Gun-ner team finished second in thetournament – no easy feat, when,according to the rules, a full teamcan consist of 16 Soldiers.“Maybe next year we canhave a full team and get that tro-phy back where it belongs,”Wayne said.Spc. Micah Barro (black shirt) from 41st Fires Brigade, goes on the offensive by throwing a right jab at his opponent. Barro took first place for hisweight class at the 2013 Fort Hood Combatives Tournament, Feb. 23 (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Garett Hernandez, 41st Fires Brigade Public Affairs).Story and photo bySgt. Garett Hernandez41st Fires Brigade, Public Affairs-6-VOLUME 13, ISSUE 2 THE RAIL GUNNER NEWSLETTER MAY 2013
  7. 7. Story and photos byBy Daniel CerneroSentinel Sports Editoras the noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the brigade’s combativesteam this year.“When I got here, it surprisedme that the brigade as a whole was stillpushing the combatives program,”Wayne said, who arrived in June,“turning it around and sending Soldiersto Level 1 if they didn’t have italready, making sure that eachbattalion had a certain amount of Level2s and Level 3s, so that they hadcertified instructors throughout thebattalion, to go around to the units, thecompanies, to ensure they were doingthe proper training when thecombatives training was on the trainingcalendar.”It’s this type of incorporationof combatives, Wayne said, thatnaturally translates into the brigade’ssuccess in the tournament. The 41stFires Bde. team followed up a second-place finish in 2011 with an outrightvictory last year.As of November, a group of41st Fires Bde. Soldiers had alreadybeen identified to start training for theFort Hood tournament. But even acrossthe entire brigade, on a unit-by-unitbasis, combatives is somethingregularly rescheduled on the trainingcalendar, Wayne said, whether it beonce a month, where it is now, or asfrequently as once a week as in thepast.Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Farris,the noncommissioned officer-in-chargeof the Fort Hood Combatives TrainingFacility, said this implementation isexactly how they’d like to grow thecombatives program heading forward.“They need to integrate it intoeverything that they’re doing,” Farrissaid, referring to units and Soldiersacross the board. “So for PT (physicaltraining), after we do a run, we coulddo some drills and do a combativesportion, and then we could do ourstretching. Or if we go to the field,there’d be a portion of combatives weIn being a Soldier of the U.S.Army, one must “stand ready todeploy, engage and destroy theenemies of the United States ofAmerica in close combat,” as stated inthe Soldier’s Creed.It also references, among otherthings, how a Soldier must adopt anever-quit attitude, while being“disciplined, physically and mentallytough, trained and proficient in …warrior tasks and drills.”In just over three week’s time,the annual Fort Hood CombativesTournament will commence once againas Soldiers showcase a very visualdisplay of the above characteristics.But to get to that level –competing and excelling in the posttournament – requires commitment andtraining, said Sgt. Maj. TimothyWayne, the operations sergeant majorfor 41st Fires Brigade’s 1st Battalion,21st Field Artillery Regiment, as wellcould do before doing each differentfield exercise.”There’s currently amisconception, Farris said, thatcombatives and the benefits of thistraining only apply to Soldiers with acombat arms military occupationspecialty.“(The benefits apply) for anyMOS – truck drivers, cooks – anythingthat you do in the Army,” he said.“Even if I’m a computer-analyst guy;how many times have people gottenonto the FOB (forward operatingbase)? All they have to do is be in thesame room with you, and if your riflewas five feet away from you or 10 feetaway from you, it’d probably be goodfor you to know how to defendyourself with your hands.“Is it a stretch? Yes, but howmany people go into combat and neverend up firing their weapon? A ton,”Farris added. “Infantryman will go tocombat and sometimes not fire theirweapon. Does that mean that theyshouldn’t practice firing their weapon?No, you still want to have that tool inyour kit just in case.”Spc. Richard Cole, one of the41st Fires Bde. instructors, and thereigning champ at the welterweightdivision from last year’s posttournament, has the MOS of amechanic. He said the usefulness ofcombatives extends past being downrange and into having basic self-defense for when Soldiers are at home.“Down range, yes, you’reclearing rooms and you have to usecombatives,” Cole said, “but stateside,you don’t have your M16 on you oryour IBA (interceptor body armor) andACH (advanced combat helmet) onyou. (With training), you have a betterchance of defending yourself andhelping keep the community safe.”Farris stressed that as aSoldier, regardless of MOS,combatives helps make Soldierswarriors.Sgt. Justin Smith, in the black shirt, winds upa punch directed at Sgt. Richard Lee during a41st Fires Bde. combatives practice the morn-ing of Jan. 29, as the unit prepares a team forupcoming Fort Hood Combatives Tournament(U.S. Army photo by Daniel Cernero, SentinelSports Editor)-7-VOLUME 13, ISSUE 2 THE RAIL GUNNER NEWSLETTER MAY 2013
  8. 8. piece that I feel like we’re kind ofmissing.He continued, “Commandersmake the training schedules, so it alldepends on if the commander is intocombatives or not. If they deem thatsomething else is more important thancombatives, then that takes priority.“Soldiers can affect the guysthey’re in charge of. So even if mycommander doesn’t like it, I can takemy group of guys and make themawesome. But beyond that … it takesguys being higher ranking to enforce.”As a way to reward theSoldiers’ hard work and training, thesecombatives tournaments come in asmotivation, Farris said.“They are a good thing to buildesprit de corps within a unit, to allowSoldiers to become champions and tohone the warrior skills in anenvironment that you’re able tomaintain the safety,” he said.It’s important for Soldiers tolearn how to take a hit, Wayne added,here in a safe, controlled environment,rather than down range.“For those that have grown upfighting, they can take a hit,” he said,“But for those that have never been hitbefore, when they actually get hit a fewtimes going through the clinch drill, itwakes them up, and it builds theirconfidence, because they realize thatI’ve been hit, but it really didn’t hurtthat bad.”“What kind of people do youwant around you in the Army?” heasked. “We talk about people being awarrior, a warrior-this or a warrior-that; fighting should be one of the mainthings that we focus on, in my opinion.It’s a basic of a warrior.”The training also has naturalripple effects in a Soldier and in theunit.“It goes into all of the thingsthat we want guys to do – be active andnot be sitting in your barracks room;talking about the Warrior Ethos, espritde corps,” Farris said. “All of thosethings, you get a portion of it doingcombatives, and they all transfer intotheir regular jobs.”Sgt. Justin Smith, who is Level3 certified in combatives and is anotherof the 41st Fires Brigade team leaders,said he ends up seeing Soldiers whoare much more confident.“They’re not scared to fire. Itcomes from the same thing as fighting;people will hesitate,” he said. “Youdon’t hesitate anymore after doingthese programs; you don’t get scared,because you know what you’re doing.Training with these guys had gotten methinking on my feet more than I everhave as an NCO.”It’s also serves as somethingpositive for Soldiers to invest theirtime into.Sgt. Justin Smith, a coach for the 41st FiresBde.’s combatives team, oversees a portion ofpractice the morning of Jan. 29, as the unitprepares a team for the upcoming Fort HoodCombatives Tournament (U.S. Army photo byDaniel Cernero, Sentinel Sports Editor).“I was on my out the door, onmy way out of the Army,” Smith said,“but combatives was a way to save me,a way to keep my interest going, to keepme happy in the Army and motivate me.It’s a whole new motivation.“At the time, I wasn’t gettingthe challenge I needed,” he added, “andthis provided the challenge I needed tostay.”To get to the level wherecombatives can be used safely within aunit, Farris said the focus should not beon just sending all of a unit’s Soldiers tothe fight house to become Level 1certified in combatives. That’s afoundational element units can take careof on their own.“We’d rather them get certifieddown at their unit level,” he said. “Andthen here, at the fight house, they’ll bedoing tactical, scenario-based training –clearing rooms, taking people out ofhumvees, or any type of scenario-basedtraining, whether we’re doing it out attheir unit with them or they’re cominghere.”For a unit to be able to certifySoldiers in the Level 1 of combatives,they must have a Soldier who is at leastLevel 3 certified.After the proper combativescertifications are in place, both Wayneand Farris agreed that it all boils downto senior leadership as to how muchcombatives would continue to beimplemented after that.“As long as your leadership isinvolved with the combatives program,you’re going to have combativessuccessfully incorporated in your unit,”Wayne said simply. “If you don’t havethe senior leadership involvement, thenyou’re not going to have it.”“It’s a different mindset acrossthe board – there are some people thatare doing it and there are some thataren’t doing it,” Farris added. “It just alldepends on where the priority is forcombatives. And a lot of people justdon’t know how it fits in. That’s theSpc. Richard Cole maintains the top positionwhile grappling with Pfc. Christian Vazquezduring a 41st Fires Bde. combatives practice themorning of Jan. 29, as the unit prepares a teamfor upcoming Fort Hood CombativesTournament (U.S. Army photo by DanielCernero, Sentinel Sports Editor).-8-VOLUME 13, ISSUE 2 THE RAIL GUNNER NEWSLETTER MAY 2013
  9. 9. with the command’s femaleSoldiers by Sgt. 1st Class SheenaFerrell, who serves as thebattalion’s Sexual Harassmentand Assault Response andPrevention program coordinator.Ferrell said Kessinger is a greatexample of a successful seniorenlisted leader.“My command team isstarting a quarterly Soldierdevelopment program, and thisquarter the focus is onmentorship,” said Ferrell. “Sinceit is Women’s History Month, wedecided to have a Women’sDevelopment Day; my step-mother, retired Lt. Col. TonyaBryant, who worked with Sgt.Maj. Kessinger at Fort Bliss,suggested I call her and ask herto speak to the group.”Ferrell said it was great tohave Kessinger help kick off theirprogram.“Future Soldierdevelopment sessions will includeAs the noncommissionedofficer-in-charge of U.S. ArmyNorth’s personnel office, Sgt. Maj.Linda Kessinger was an excellentchoice to speak at the Women’sMentorship Day for 1st Battalion,21st Field Artillery Regiment,41st Fires Brigade at Fort Hood.Having served at all levelsof enlisted leadership, she hasspent her career mentoring andleading, female and male Soldiersalike: first as a drill sergeant,then as an equal opportunityrepresentative and now as asergeant major.“I love what I do,” saidKessinger. “I feel like I have morementorship to give. I love theSoldiers, and I am addicted to theArmy.”Kessinger was asked tomake the trek from Fort SamHouston to Fort Hood to speakall of the Soldiers in thebattalion,” said Ferrell, addingthat the Mentorship Day alsoincluded yoga and other team-building exercises.According to the Army’sLeadership manual, to answerthe challenges of today’s militaryenvironment, NCOs must traintheir Soldiers to cope, prepareand perform no matter what thesituation. In short, the NCO oftoday is a warrior-leader of strongcharacter, comfortable in everyrole outlined in the NCO Corps’vision.Kessinger, who embodiesthe strong and agile characterrequired to be successful as amodern senior enlisted leader,spoke to the group about theimportance of finding a mentor aswell as being one to someone else.“When I came into theArmy 28 years ago, I don’tremember seeing female firstsergeants or sergeants major,”A group of female Soldiers with the 1st Battalion, 21st Field Artillery Regiment, 41st Fires Brigade, gather round at the close of the day and enjoy atreat to cap off the battalion’s Women’s Mentorship Day, March 25, at the Oveta Culp Center on Fort Hood. Sgt. Maj. Linda Kessinger, thenoncommissioned officer-in-charge of the personnel section for U.S. Army North (Fifth Army), made the trek from Fort Sam Houston to serve as theguest speaker for the event (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Sheena Ferrell, 1st Battalion, 21st Field Artillery Regiment)Story byArmy North, Public Affairs Office-9-VOLUME 13, ISSUE 2 THE RAIL GUNNER NEWSLETTER MAY 2013
  10. 10. guidance of her mentors over theyears helped her to succeed in hercareer, which, she added, reallytook off when she pinned onsergeant rank and met herhusband, retired Sgt. Maj. DanielKessinger.“He is my best friend,”said Kessinger. “We had onlybeen dating for a few monthswhen I came on orders for drillsergeant school and he came onorders for recruiting school. Wewanted to stay together, so we gotmarried and his orders werechanged to drill sergeant school.“After that, our careersmirrored each others: drillsergeants’ school, equalopportunity, I was addicted to theArmy.”she said. “As a junior Soldier, Idon’t remember having a “womanleader” to look up to – but I hadsome great male leaders andmentors.“Today, you’re lucky – youhave many senior role models,any of which I bet will take youby the hand and lead youwherever you want to go. There isno limit.”Kessinger also counseledthe Soldiers to believe inthemselves and to not listen tonaysayers.“The only differencebetween you and me is that Ihave been in the Army longerthen you,” she said. “If you putyour mind to it, you can be theSergeant Major of the Army.”Kessinger has mentoredpeople throughout her life – evenbefore joining the Army.“My mother worked threejobs when I was a kid,” she said.So, when I first joined the Army, Isent my paycheck home to her soshe wouldn’t have to work somuch and so my younger siblingscould have the things theywanted without having to resortto stealing.”When she joined the Army,Kessinger said she, like manyother Soldiers in her shoes, wasunsure as to whether she hadmade the right choice. She sharedsome of her initial concerns withthe group.“I was that Soldier outthere, like many of you in theaudience, who had doubts, whowas scared,” said Kessinger. “Thepressure of trying to make itthrough basic training took a tollon me.”She said being able todraw on the experience andWhile meeting with theSoldiers, Kessinger engaged in aquestion and answer session.Afterward, Spc. LauraLefler, a human resourcesspecialist with Headquarters andHeadquarters Battery, 1st Bn.,21st FA Rgmt., 41st Fires Bde.,asked Kessinger if she couldtransfer to Army North to servewith her. Lefler said she wasmotivated by Kessinger’s wordsand asked for advice on whatopportunities existed for had.Kessinger told the Soldiersthat her opportunities arelimitless and, as a personnelsergeant, she has an opportunityto serve pretty much anywhere inthe Army. One of the greatthings, she added, is that youhave the opportunity to move onto a new mission every two tothree years so you can expand onyour career experiences.“While the grass isn’talways greener on the other side,you are only going to be at a unitfor a relatively short amount oftime,” she said, adding that it isimportant for Soldiers to take anactive interest in their careersand to understand theassignment process.“Sometimes you have tosay ‘hooah’ and drive on – even ifyou are a sergeant major,” Shesaid. “I am proud to be a femaleSoldier at this time.“When I came in, theburden of proof used to be ‘whyshould a woman serve in aparticular military occupationalspecialty?’ Today, it is whyshouldn’t women serve in thisMOS? Let us continue to breakdown barriers and pave the wayfor the men and women who willwalk in our boots.”Female Soldiers with the 1st Battalion, 21stField Artillery Regiment, 41st Fires Brigade,assemble a puzzle together as part of thebattalion’s Women’s Mentorship Day March25 at the Oveta Culp Center on Fort Hood.(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class SheenaFerrell, 1st Battalion, 21st Field ArtilleryRegiment, 41st Fires Brigade)-10-VOLUME 13, ISSUE 2 THE RAIL GUNNER NEWSLETTER MAY 2013
  11. 11. Soldiers from the 41st Fires Brigade lead a procession down a residential street in Morgan’s Point Resort, Texas in honor of Marine Staff Sgt.Jack Pierce, Feb. 9 (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Garett Hernandez, 41st Fires Brigade Public Affairs)A small group of Soldiers fromacross the 41st Fires Brigade marcheddown a residential street in Morgan’sPoint Resort, Texas, while still moreSoldiers lined one side of the streetholding American flags, Feb. 9 inhonor of Marine Staff Sgt. Jack Pierce.Pierce was left paralyzed fromthe chest down after his vehicle was hitby a 300 pound IED in HelmandProvince, Afghanistan on Jan. 9, 2010.The parade and followingribbon cutting ceremony were held forthe Pierces, who received the keys totheir new home.Through a charity organizationcalled Homes for our Troops, thePierce family received a house that wasbuilt to give Jack the freedom ofmovement to allow him to live moreindependently.Many of the Rail Gunnersparticipating in the ceremonyvolunteered time to help create thelandscaping for the Pierce home.“It is extremely rewarding tosee all of these people and city cometogether to take care of this Marine andhis family,” said Sgt. 1st Class ElbertPowell from Headquarters andHeadquarters Battery, 41st Fires Bde.In September of 2012 Powellhelped put in the landscaping aroundthe Pierce’s new home. “I felt goodknowing that I was able to help.”Construction began on June15, 2012 and eight months later thePierce family is excited to move intotheir new home."This home, it means a lot tous. Number one, I can accesseverything. I can get to the cabinets, Ican get to the sink, I can utilize thestove without burning my arms or myhands," said Pierce after cutting theribbon to the newly built home.Staff Sgt. Akeem Stalling shakes hands withMarine Staff Sgt. Jack Pierce. Pierce was leftparalyzed from the chest down after his vehiclewas hit by a 300 pound IED in HelmandProvince, Afghanistan on Jan. 9, 2010 (U.S.Army photo by Sgt. Garett Hernandez, 41st FiresBrigade Public Affairs).Story and photos bySgt. Garett Hernandez41st Fires Brigade, Public Affairs-11-VOLUME 13, ISSUE 2 THE RAIL GUNNER NEWSLETTER MAY 2013
  12. 12. Soldiers from A Battery,2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artil-lery Regiment, 41st Fires Brigadedeployed to Kuwait in the earlymorning hours of Feb. 2.The Soldiers will spendthe deployment training andstanding ready in case the Armycalls the unit into action in thatregion of the world.“We are going to get somegood training while we are there,”said 1st Sgt. Christian Bellota,first sergeant for A Battery, 2ndBn., 20th FAR, 41st Fires Bde.The event started with abarbecue for all of the Soldiersand their families and friends onthe evening of Feb. 1. After theSoldiers were issued their weap-ons they were able to spend timewith family and friends. Themood was somber throughout thenight despite the upbeat musicplaying throughout the battalionarea.“I’m glad that I have theopportunity to serve my country,”said Spc. Matthew Garza, a Mul-tiple Launch Rocket System crewmember. This is Garza’s first de-ployment.All too soon it was time forthe battery to load on to buses todepart the battalion area for theairport. Hugs and kisses weregiven quickly as Family memberssaid their final goodbyes beforethe Soldiers got on the bus andsoon after the airplane that willtake them on their journey half-way around the world.Soldiers for A Battery, 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery Regiment, 41st Fires Brigade, givetheir final goodbyes to their spouses as the battery prepares to leave the battalion area andhead to the airport Feb. 2 (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Garett Hernandez, 41st Fires BrigadePublic Affairs).Story and photos bySgt. Garett Hernandez41st Fires Brigade, Public AffairsSoldiers from A Battery, 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery Regiment, 41st Fires Brigade spenda few more minutes, here at Fort Hood, with loved ones before loading the buses that will takethem to the airport Feb. 2 (U.S. Army photos by Sgt. Garett Hernandez, 41st Fires BrigadePublic Affairs).-12-VOLUME 13, ISSUE 2 THE RAIL GUNNER NEWSLETTER MAY 2013
  13. 13. The small town of Center-ville, Texas, a town of about 900people, held its annual veterans’appreciation day celebration April27 here.Centerville adopted the41st Fires “Rail Gunners” Brigadethrough the Association of theUnited States Army adopt-a-unitprogram. Located in Leon County,Texas, the town is no stranger togiving back to the military.Leon County has been gen-erous when it comes to America’sarmed forces, having donated tur-keys for Thanksgiving and toysfor Christmas to the Soldiers ofthe Rail Gunner Brigade.The celebration started offlike many military ceremonieswith the posting of America’s Col-ors, provided by the Palestine,Texas chapter of Vietnam Veter-ans of America.Col. William McRae, 41stFires Brigade commander, wasthe first guest speaker to addressthe audience. Before McRae couldstart his speech, he was surprisedby three Rail Gunners whomarched up and presented himwith a saxophone. McRae pro-ceeded to play “America the Beau-tiful” for the crowd’s pleasure.“I didn’t know the colonelcould play the saxophone,” saidSgt. Jonathan Garcia, a transpor-tation operator with 67th For-ward Support Company, 2nd Bat-talion, 20th Field Artillery Regi-ment, 41st Fires.Also addressing the crowdof approximately 200 people wasCongressman Kevin Brady, whorepresents Texas’ 8th Congres-sional District. Brady talkedabout the expanded health clinicfor the local veterans and theplans of expanding the healthcare system even more in his dis-trict.Once the keynote speakerhad finished, the Soldiers andveterans were treated to a barbe-cue lunch donated by businessesthroughout Leon County. Therewere also door prizes given awayto a few lucky individuals.Along with the festivities,several organizations were onhand to provide information toveterans about the benefits theyearned through their military ser-vice.“Everybody needs to re-member their veterans … wereally need to pay our respect toour veterans,” said former Marineand Vietnam Veteran Steve Sev-ern.Col. William McRae, 41st Fires Brigade commander, plays the saxophone for the crowd April 27 ata veterans’ appreciation celebration in Centerville, Texas. The town of Centerville invited Soldiersfrom the 41st Fires Bde. and veterans from the surrounding areas to join the town as they showtheir appreciation with a luncheon, guest speakers and door prizes. (Photo by Sgt. GarettHernandez, 41st Fires Brigade Public Affairs).Story and photos bySgt. Garett Hernandez41st Fires Brigade, Public AffairsCommand Sgt. Maj. Jennifer Love, commandsergeant major for the 589th Brigade SupportBattalion, 41st Fires Brigade, looks over thetraveling Texas Fallen Heroes Memorial thatmade a stop April 27 at the veterans’ appreciationcelebration held in Centerville, Texas. The town ofCenterville invited Soldiers from the 41st FiresBde. and veterans from the surrounding areas tojoin the town as they show their appreciation witha luncheon, guest speakers and door prizes. (Photoby Sgt. Garett Hernandez, 41st Fires BrigadePublic Affairs).-13-VOLUME 13, ISSUE 2 THE RAIL GUNNER NEWSLETTER MAY 2013
  14. 14. Philip A. Connelly Competition 2013 Fort Hood Combatives TournamentEaster Egg HuntHouston Live Stock Show and Rodeo1st Cavalry Division runAfter 41st Fires Brigade run-14-VOLUME 13, ISSUE 2 THE RAIL GUNNER NEWSLETTER MAY 2013
  15. 15. -15-VOLUME 13, ISSUE 2 THE RAIL GUNNER NEWSLETTER MAY 2013Sgt. Marcela Hunt575th FSC, 1-21st FARSpc. Lyka Cabigon67th FSC, 2-20th FAR
  16. 16. 153 Rail Gunners reenlisted during the months of January, February, March, and Apil:Spc. Abad, Jonas Carino JrSpc. Alexius, Ren AndrewSpc. Alviar, Christopher LeeSpc. Armentarenteria, AnthonySpc. Axtell, Brennan DSpc. Barnes, Corey AlanSpc. Bergan, Anthony FrancisSpc. Bitz, Jesse DouglasSpc. Burrows, Nicholas LeslieSpc. Casillas, AlejandraSpc. Colemire, Curtis DaleSpc. Devoue, Darren TylerSpc. Dubois, Seth GabrielSpc. Groves, Adrian LamarSpc. Hall, Blaine RobertSpc. Harris, Shawn TempleSpc. Hinkley, Kendall TagueSpc. Hoyt, Michael RobertSpc. Hubbard, Dominique ChavezSpc. Irwin, Jeremy BrianSpc. Johnson, Taneisha MarquinezSpc. Linares, ElsaSpc. Lopez, Adrian ManuelSpc. Martinez, Eric FrankSpc. Mckinney, Kyarra ChantaSpc. Mena, Carlos LuisSpc. Pappas, Kyle DavidSpc. Ralston, Jared ColeySpc. Sdelamora, Alberto JrSpc. Seely, Richard GuySpc. Siler, Marquez MauriceSpc. Sorm, Dalyson LeeSpc. Stewart, Kevin NicholasSpc. Arredondo, Chad EricSpc. Baker, Jeremy HoustonSpc. Brisell, Brandon MatthewSpc. Carlton, Kyle WadeSpc. Gabriel, Marlon ChrisSpc. Garza, Matthew EugeneSpc. Halona, Jeffery PeteSpc. Hughes, Marvin FitzgeraldSpc. Johnson, Terrence DewayneSpc. Keller, Justin Randalwayne WSpc. Munoz, Jorge AntonioSpc. Pape, Andrew ThomasSpc. Phillips, Ashlee MurighaSpc. Schaefer, Eugene JonSpc. Valentine, Sheryl AnnetteSpc. Whatley, Dennis Lamar JrSpc. Winemiller, Justin BrettSgt. Buffum, James ErickrobertSgt. Conwell, Keith DontaySgt. Jean, GersoneSgt. Laplace, Jeremy JosephSgt. Lisowsky, Steven CharlesSgt. Mattick, Keegan JoesphSgt. Mitchell, Denise MarieSgt. Nelson, Wykeese JamalSgt. Willis, Shane WesleyStaff Sgt. Cookman, Jefferson ErnestStaff Sgt. Elam, Landre KenpaStaff Sgt. Mcquesten, Jason RayStaff Sgt. Thiers, Ryan FrancisStaff Sgt. Waycaster, Dennis RobertStaff Sgt. Young, Alex LeeSgt. 1st Class Moody, April TamaraSpc. Buettner, Brendan MichaelSpc. Dayes, Caleb EmmanuelSpc. Dunbar, Joseph Nathaniel IiSpc. Gellys, Marcus AntonioSpc. Hall, Nicole MicheleSpc. Hardin, Virgil Edgar IiiSpc. Higgins, Jasmine AntionetteSpc. Javaine, Mark ArnoldSpc. Langarica, Gregory AnthonySpc. Miller, Christina MarlenaSpc. Prich, Jessica MarieSpc. Rivers, Sean Renard JrSpc. Threat, Justin AntoineSpc. Wessel, Justina JeniseSpc. Wheelock, Owen CedricSgt. Acevedo, Laura RaeannSgt. Barreto, GadielSgt. Barron, Luis AlbertoSgt. Dean, Casey LeeSgt. Ford, Rashad AndreSgt. Galvan, Mirisa RenaySgt. Gonzalez, Emily SelenaSgt. Hawkins, Calvin DewayneSgt. Kopakowski, Michael DavidSgt. Maza, Reyes Manuel IiiSgt. Pettigrew, Chermark JosephSgt. Robinski, Shawn MichaelSgt. Villafane, Luis AStaff Sgt. Campos, Jesus GuzmanStaff Sgt. Carter, Byron Lee SmithStaff Sgt. Hagler, Felisha JuvoleSpc. Tribble, Johnathan Randall JSpc. Wallace, John DarrinSpc. Wichman, Sarah MichelleSpc. Williams, Bobby Gene JrSpc. Williams, James MatthewSgt. Davis, Antonio DariusSgt. Felts, Christopher MichaelSgt. Ferguson, Jacob DarinSgt. Galvan, GeorgeSgt. Harper, Jacquez ZenasSgt. Hernandezayala, OscarSgt. Hunt, Marcela VeralySgt. Jackson, Dalmar PattersonSgt. Lamb, Bo AustinSgt. Patterson, Joseph AlanSgt. Pennington, Joshua DowneySgt. Poveda, Erik JSgt. Quarles, Dezmond TerrellSgt. Rodriguez, Nelson JrSgt. Smith, Orlando Staubyn AubySgt. Southwick, Daniel ParrSgt. Towns, Cassius Devonta DereaSgt. Young, Travais WarrenStaff Sgt. Borja, Travis Ivan StolStaff Sgt. Ferrell, Tommy WayneStaff Sgt. Fuller, Noah TremayneStaff Sgt. Gehrke, Joshua AllenStaff Sgt. Jackson, Anthony RayStaff Sgt. Mack, Casey BenjaminStaff Sgt. Salazar, Johnboyd FaisaoStaff Sgt. Starling, Thomas Norman JrStaff Sgt. Traxler, Randell Max JrSpc. Bennett, Robert DonatoSpc. Caward, Gaige MichaelSpc. Frauenfeld, Edwin BennettSpc. Jeterperry, Terrance MontrelSpc. Kinsey, Tylor PatrickSpc. Lattner, Steven AndrewSpc. Moore, Tia JeneSpc. Pellegrin, Michael JohnSpc. Rivas, SamuelSpc. Todas, Lindon Jason ManuelSgt. Diaz, James EdwardSgt. Guardado, Raul JrSgt. Jackson, Yolanda MarieSgt. Mclemore, James CarrollStaff Sgt. Anderson, Fernandez DominicStaff Sgt. Britton, Exie MclindaStaff Sgt. Brown, Lavaris TerrellStaff Sgt. Stjoy, AlexSgt. 1st Class Oros, Israel PerezSpc. Shelton, Allen GeanSpc. Derrington, Melanie JeannineSpc. Martin, Shaeyne KSpc. Parker, Keisha MoniqueSpc. Pilling, Thomas JonSpc. Priester, Marquis Davon-16-VOLUME 13, ISSUE 2 THE RAIL GUNNER NEWSLETTER MAY 2013
  17. 17. We would like to congratulate all of the Rail Gunners that were promotedduring the months of January, February, March, and April:The “Rail Gunner Monthly” is an authorized publication for members of the U.S. Army. Contentsof the “Rail Gunner Monthly” are not necessarily official views of or endorsed by the U.S. Govern-ment, Department of Defense, Department of the Army or the 41st Fires Brigade.All editorial content of this publication is prepared, edited, provided and approved by the 41stFires Brigade Public Affairs Office. If you have any questions, comments, concerns or suggestionscontact the 41st Fires Brigade Public Affaris office at 254-287-0739 or emailjohn.a.farmer24.mil@mail.mil.Check out the unit’s Website at www.hood.army.mil/41stFires, on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/41stFiresBrigade, or Flickr at www.flickr.com/41stfiresbrigade for additionalinformation.SPC Kevin L. FisherSGT John G. BarberSGT Jesse D. BitzSGT Seth G. DuboisSGT Gregory A. LanagarciaSGT Ryan L. LourdeSGT Eric F. MartinezSGT Eric P. Turner1LT Christopher RobinettePV2 Christopher B. MaxwellSGT Zacchary T. EasonSGT James C. MclemoreSGT Gregory D. SmithSSG Jacob D. FergusonSSG Rashad A. FordSSG Keegan J. Mattick1LT Terrence J. GreenPFC Heather J. HuberSGT Delaina R. DaleySGT Joseph W. LeeSGT Nicholas A. SawyerSGT Michael Z. ZhangzhuSSG Irma L. JohnsonSSG Archie A. MitchellCPT William J. ONealVOLUME 13, ISSUE 2 THE RAIL GUNNER NEWSLETTER MAY 2013-17-SGT Jorge HortaSGT Andrew SullivanCPT Rex GotchyCPT Bermeshia E. Thomas
  18. 18. To send your story ideas and pictures to the 41st Fires BrigadePublic Affairs Office!CPT John Farmer: john.a.farmer24.mil@mail.milSGT Garett Hernandez: garett.m.hernandez.mil@mail.mil-18-