Field Artillery Cannoneers M777A2 Howitzer Gunners
Marines with 10th Marine Regiment team up for a practical application session on a M777A2 Howitzer during the Artillery Assistant Gunners and Gunners Course Nov. 6, 2015, at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. The month-long course trains Marines to transition from basic field artillery cannoneers to assistant gunners and gunners within their gun sections. |Photo by Cpl. Joey Mendez

Field Artillery Cannoneers Transition Into M777A2 Howitzer Gunners

A total of 25 field artillery cannoneers with 10th Marine Regiment recently took part in the Artillery Assistant Gunners and Gunners Course.

The following is a release from Cpl. Joey Mendez of the II Marine Expeditionary Force:

Twenty-five field artillery cannoneers with 10th Marine Regiment made the transformation into assistant gunners and gunners ready to operate a M777A2 Howitzer by taking part in the Artillery Assistant Gunners and Gunners Course in November at Camp Lejeune.

According to ‘MCWP 3-16.1 Artillery Operations’, the mission of artillery is to furnish close and continuous fire support by neutralizing, destroying or suppressing targets that threaten the success of the supported unit by providing timely, close, accurate, and continuous fire support. In order to ensure this mission is accomplished the duty of the gunner and a-gunner are crucial to the section.

The purpose of this month-long training is to transition cannoneers into confident and proficient gunners and a-gunners capable of conducting fire missions.

“The a-gunner helps elevate and suppress the tube to allow accurate fires, while the gunner is the one who has to be aware of everything that is going on with the gun,” said Sgt. James Norman, a course instructor with the unit.

Throughout the course the Marines complete 80 hours of classroom instruction and 120 hours of practical application however many hours of off-duty studying and practice are required to fully understand the lessons and retain the knowledge.

“I usually study for about an hour every night to help myself retain what I learned throughout the day,” said Lance Cpl. Dalton Mundy, a student with the course.

This course expanded the Marines knowledge in their military occupational specialty far beyond what they knew when first entering the course.

“I have learned all the different working parts of the howitzer and their purpose, as well as the fire control system. Basically we are learning the parts of the system that you aren’t really taught about before joining this course,” said Mundy, who has been a cannoneer for more than a year.

The training created a new trust between the Marines of the regiment, as now they are more prepared and capable of performing any mission they may face in the future.

“Throughout this course they are performing really well,” said Norman, an artillery veteran with seven years of experience. “They [the students] are gaining and maintaining all the knowledge through the tests and practical application. As far as I’m concerned this class will be fine when they return to their guns.”

Upon completion of the course the Marines will graduate and go back to their gun sections where they can display and teach their new skills to their fellow Marines.

“My confidence has grown 100 percent throughout this course. I feel like this class has enabled me to be able to teach the newer Marines with the confidence to know I’m teaching them correctly,” said Mundy. “My goals after this course are to go back and pass on the knowledge I have learned here to the younger Marines, so when it is their time to come here they will be more prepared.”

“This course is pretty important. It is developing young Marines to become better Marines in artillery and to become future section chiefs because without someone replacing the older chiefs we will have nothing,” added Norman.

“They are gaining and maintaining all the knowledge through the tests and practical application. As far as I’m concerned this class will be fine when they return to their guns,” said Norman, an artillery veteran with seven years of experience.

Upon completion of the course the Marines will graduate and go back to their gun sections where they can display and teach their new skills to their fellow Marines.

“My confidence has grown 100 percent throughout this course. I feel like this class has enabled me to be able to teach the newer Marines with the confidence to know I’m teaching them correctly,” said Mundy. “My goals after this course are to go back and pass on the knowledge I have learned here to the younger Marines, so when it is their time to come here they will be more prepared.”

“This course is pretty important. It is developing young Marines to become better Marines in artillery and to become future section chiefs because without someone replacing the older chiefs we will have nothing,” added Norman.

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