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VOLUME 2

THE RAIL GUNNER MONTHLY

ISSUE 4

Inside this issue Message from RG6/RG9

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Spur Ride

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Special Delivery

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MRX

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Promotions and Re-up

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The Rail Gunner

Monthly Staff Commander COL John C. Thomson, III Command Sgt. Maj. CSM Kelvin A. Hughes Rail Gunner PAO NCOIC SSG Kyle J. Richardson Rail Gunner Journalists SPC Dalinda Hanna

41st Fires Brigade “Rail Gunners!!”

Photo by Spc. Dalinda Hanna, 41st Fires Brigade PAO Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Brinton, command sergeant major for 1st Battalion, 21st Field Artillery Regiment, 41st Fires Bde, presented certificates and spurs to the 28 Soldiers who earned their silver spurs during the first-quarter Spur Ride, Dec. 16.

Story and photos by Spc. Dalinda Hanna 41st Fires Brigade, PAO

FORT HOOD, Texas—Twenty-eight of the forty-three Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 21st Field Artillery Regiment, 41st Fires Brigade, who participated in the first-quarter Spur Ride, earned their silver spurs at Fort Hood, Texas, Dec. 15 and 16. The Spur Ride consisted of a five -mile run and a six-mile road march with various testing along the route.

These stations included a unit history test, first aid, weapons assembly and disassembly, radio loading procedures, map reading, a tire flip station, and a mystery event. The mystery event was chosen by the battalion command sergeant major and consisted of push-ups and sit-ups for one minute and a one-mile run. The Spur Ride, a Cavalry tradition, tested Soldier’s mental and physical ability, leadership, techniSee SPUR on Page 3


VOLUME 2, ISSUE 4

THE RAIL GUNNER MONTHLY

JANUARY 2011

Rail Gunner 6 & 9 Send

Colonel John C. Thomson, III 41st Fires Brigade Dear Rail Gunner Family: As we enter the New Year, CSM Hughes and I would like to express our sincere thanks to the Rail Gunner Family for all you do. The dedication and service of our Soldiers and Families continues to inspire us, and we are extremely grateful for your efforts and sacrifices to our Nation. December was a critical month for the 41st Fires Brigade as we conducted our ARFORGEN (Army Force Generation) capstone exercise. The brigade’s primary focus was on improving and validating our battalion and brigade level battle command and control systems during the execution of the brigade mission readiness exercise (MRX). The Rail Gunners performed superbly during all facets of this rigorous and demanding MRX. Over the two week exercise, we sharpened our technical and tactical skills from the brigade command post down to individual battery Fire Direction Centers. Additionally, Brigade and Battalion Liaison Teams (LNO) deployed to South Korea where they worked with

U.S. Forces Korea and the Republic of Korea Army who participated in the exercise. Because of the intense training over the last few months, and the commitment to excellence of our Soldiers and NCOs, the Brigade’s combat readiness remains very high. On a somber, we are sad to report the loss of a magnificent Warrior from our ranks. Master Sergeant Anthony Brown of 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery unexpectedly passed away on December 18th at his residence from undetermined causes. Please keep the Brown Family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. On December 15 and 16, fortythree Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 21st Field Artillery participated in the battalion’s first-quarter Spur Ride. After two days of intense testing, twenty-eight First Strike troopers earned their silver spurs as a qualified Cavalryman. The hard work and dedication these Soldiers demonstrated showed their resiliency and determination, and will reflect each time they proudly wear their spurs. In the days leading up to Christmas, the magnificent residents of Centerville, Texas and Leon County delivered more than 500 donated toys to the 41st Fires Brigade. As many of you know, Centerville, Texas is the brigade’s partnership community here in Texas. Over the years, the kind people of Centerville have continuously supported the Rail Gunners in many ways, including Christmas donations and support of organizational events to just name a few. Once again the generosity of Leon County towards our military has been spectacular. Because of their kindheartedness, many of our Soldiers and Families were able to have a more special and bountiful holiday season. We greatly appreciate the support of Leon County and find it hard to fathom a better partnership than the patriotic citizens of Centerville

Command Sergeant Major Kelvin Hughes 41st Fires Brigade CSM and Leon County. As we begin 2011, our companies and batteries will remain busy, training and preparing for whatever our Nation asks of us next. However, we will have plenty of time to spend with Family, friends and loved ones with at least one 4-day weekend every month in January, February, and March. We will also continue to observe Family time on Thursdays and have no major training scheduled for weekends. Please keep safety, on and off duty, paramount in every activity that you undertake. Each and every one of you is critical to our success, and we need you to remain fit in all five dimensions of strength: physical, emotional, social, family, and spiritual. We have access to boundless resources to build and strengthen our comprehensive fitness levels, so do not hesitate to inquire, help a buddy, or even send CSM Hughes or me a note. Thanks again for all you do -- you are the reason we are:

Rail Gunner Strong!

The “Rail Gunner Monthly” is an authorized publication for members of the U.S. Army. Contents of the “Rail Gunner Monthly” are not necessarily official views of or endorsed by the U.S. Government, 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 41st Fires Brigade Public Affairs Office. If you have any questions, comments, concerns or suggestions contact the 41st Fires Brigade PAO office at 254-287-0739 or email kyle.richardson@conus.army.mil. Check out the unit’s Website at http://www.hood.army.mil/41stFires or on Facebook for additional information.


VOLUME 2, ISSUE 4 SPUR cont. from Page 1

THE RAIL GUNNER MONTHLY

cal, and tactical proficiency. Stoneville, N.C., said that he “1-21 FA conducted a Spur signed up to support his comRide because we are part of the 1st Cavalry Division now and I earned my gold and silver spurs when I was in the Cav. the first time,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Brinton, the command sergeant major for 1st Bat., 21st FA Regt. “I wanted my Soldiers to have the opportunity to be a part of that traTwenty-eight out of 43 Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 21st Field Artillery dition. It stressed their Regiment, 41st Fires Brigade, earned their silver spurs during the firstquarter spur ride. The Soldiers went through a two-day course including a mental and physical five-mile run and six-mile road march to earn their spurs. capabilities and not everyone was able to complete all the tasks to stanrades, and it felt great to have dard. The ones that didn't are successfully completed the Spur eager to better prepare themRide challenge earning his silver selves, so they can earn their spurs. spurs when we do it again in the “Right now I hurt, but it’s all second quarter.” good because I have stories that The Spur Ride was split into I can tell,” said Ward. “I’m talking two days starting with a five-mile in terms about some of the misrun leaving 37 First Strike Solery that they put us through to diers in the event. The next day, be able to get it because there the participants woke up early were certain parts that were with their 35-pound rucksack easy to do, but there were ones ready for a six-mile road march where I felt I paid my dues and and a unit history test. earned it.” During the middle of the road Spc. Shannon Carvalho, an march, the Soldiers had to apply orderly room clerk for 575th Fora tourniquet, assemble and disward Support Company, origisemble a M-16A2 rifle, complete nally from Los Angeles, said she the mystery event, locate an signed up to prove to the eight-digit grid coordinate on a “naysayers” who said she was map and flip a LMTV tire five too old to complete the Spur times. Ride to standard. The Soldiers, who success“A lot of my fellow Soldiers fully completed the road march said I was too old to do certain and every event to standard, rethings, and I wanted to prove a ceived silver spurs. point,” said Carvalho. “I feel Chaplain (Capt.) James wonderful and tired. I think the Ward, the chaplain for 1st Bat., hardest part for me was the 21st FA Regt. and a native of timed M-16A2 assembly event in

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between the road march.” Carvalho was the only female to finish all stations successfully and earn her spurs. Staff Sgt. Lamont Barefield, the prescribed low-list section sergeant for 1st Bat., 21st FA Regt., and a native of Philadelphia, already had his gold spurs and wanted to earn the silver spurs. “I feel pretty good and now that it’s over, I feel better,” said Barefield. “It was very challenging, and I am glad they are continuing the tradition and giving others the opportunity to earn their silver spurs.” The 28 Soldiers completing the first-quarter Spur Ride have continued the 1st Cavalry tradition. They have proven to themselves and shown others that through hard work and perseverance, they can accomplish anything, thus earning the right to wear silver spurs.

Spc. Shannon Carvalho, an orderly room clerk for 575th Fire Support Company, and a native of Los Angeles, shows her certificate and silver spurs during the firstquarter Spur Ride.


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THE RAIL GUNNER MONTHLY

JANUARY 2011

Leon County residents deliver toy donations County. “I know what it’s like being a young E-1 or E-2. FORT HOOD, Texas—While When the holidays Santa Claus is up at the North rolled around, there Pole packing his sleigh and the just wasn’t a whole elves are preparing the reindeer lot there. If you can for this year’s Christmas voyage put a smile on another merry team from a somebody’s face warmer part of the world were doing this sort of gearing up to take a similar trek thing, then it’s well through Central Texas, only worth it. The reward smaller and without Rudolph comes from touchleading the way. ing people’s lives. Sgt. Joanquin Mullins, the 41st Fires Brigade command financial Several county officials and The residents of Staff specialist, and a Chicago native, unloads toys delivered by residents of Leon residents made multiple trips Leon County have County to Fort Hood, Texas, Dec. 17. More than 500 toys were collected for the children and family members of the 41st Fires Bde. and given out from Centerville, Texas to Fort donated toys two during the unit Christmas parties. Hood, Texas delivering more years in a row than 500 toys to the 41st Fires This helps them in various ways building stronger community Brigade, Dec. 16-21. The city because Christmas can be an relations with the Rail Gunners officials and volunteers throughextra financial burden. and helping family wishes out Leon County collected toys The toy drives and donations come true. brought in items like bikes for various ages, remote control cars, sporting equipment, dolls and even several pairs of shoes. “The Soldiers and family members of the 41st Fires Bde. are special to us,” said Player. “We enjoy having the opportunity of being a part of any occasion that can make the kids smile. It’s nice to know that we can take a little bit of the burden off the Soldiers during this holiday season.” The toys collected were Gary Maples (left), a veterans service officer for Leon County, gives Col. John C. Thomson, brigade commander for the 41st Fires Brigade, his favorite cap after he delivered toys to the brigade. Leon evenly distributed to the units County residents collected more than 500 toys for the Families of the 41st Fires Brigade during various within the brigade. The children toy drives that were held throughout the county. and family members had a for the Families within the 41st chance to receive a toy during “I don’t think Leon County Fires Bde., the county’s adopted each unit’s Christmas party. knows how much they help the unit. Through the kindness and Soldiers out in this brigade,” “We put the word out and generosity of Leon County, the said Staff Sgt. Joanquin Mulstarted collecting toys throughstockings hanging from the Rail lins, from Chicago. “There are out the whole county around Gunner’s household mantles many Soldiers out there who Dec. 8,” said Dean Player, a and the spaces under their are not financially stable county commissioner for Leon Christmas trees were fuller. around this time of the year. Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Kyle J. Richardson 41st Fires Brigade, PAO


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Rail Gunners advance to new skill levels

tance of a Fires Brigade.” Through early warning systems and surveillance equipFORT HOOD, Texas—Almost ment, the Soldiers can maneuas quickly as Thanksgiving taver more effectively around enbles were set and then cleared, emy forces, plan missions, and minimize the loss of lives and damage to equipment. “We have an important job within the 41st Fires Bde.,” said Sgt. Adrian Benavides, Eagle Pass, Texas native, and a early warning systems operator for the HHB, 41st Fires Bde. “We’re always watching the sky and the ground, keeping a lookout for enemy movement or suspicious activities.” The blue team ran 24hour operations in mission Maj. Gen. Daniel Allyn, the commanding general for the 1st Cavalry Division, and a Berwick, Maine native, reviews a mission plan with Col. John C. Thomson, the brigade commander of the 41st Fires Brigade, and a Tyler, Texas native, and reoriented protective posture tired Maj. Gen. Walter Wojdakowski, the senior advisor, and a Columbus, Ga, native, during the mission rehearsal exercise gear at level two throughrunning from Nov. 28 through Dec. 17. Allyn was the validating officer for the 41st Fires Brigade during the MRX. out the duration of the exthe Soldiers in the Rail Gunner platoons and batteries on the ercise, ready for whatever the Brigade quickly took up fighting battle field effectively and effired team had to throw at them. positions throughout Fort Hood ciently.” “It took some time to get into to participate in the last threeThe red team attacked the that role of a 24/7 Soldier and to week field exercise of 2010. blue team using common and get use to the MOPP suit,” said The 41st Fires Brigade reuncommon tactics known by Pfc. Melissa Gomes-Rodriguez, cently wrapped up a valuable enemy, causing friendly forces Boston native, and a survey and mission rehearsal exercise— to react to each scenario apmeteorological crew member for testing, training, and validating propriately. HHB, 41st Fires Bde. “After doon mission essential weapon “The MRX develops around ing my job for a while, I got comsystems spanning multiple trainrefined training objectives for fortable and I received some ing locations across Fort Hood, the brigade and from possible valuable training here.” Texas, Nov 28. through Dec. 17. deployment mission scenarThe Soldiers of the Rail GunThe Leaders and Soldiers ios,” said Maj. Patrick Gray, ners Brigade worked long and with the 41st Fires Bde. came Oakland, N.J. native, a future hard to push the red team’s together as the blue force. The operations officer for the 41st forces back. In the end, everyblue force’s mission was to opFires Bde. “Everyone gains a one gained a better understanderate as a fires brigade and stop practical hands-on perspective ing of their jobs and the importhe advancing enemy forces of by going through a MRX. tance of a fires brigade. Training the red team made up of FORTraining exercises that include is a journey and not a destinaSCOM and TRADOC Soldiers. culminating events show new tion according to Col. Thomson. “We are a fires brigade,” said Soldiers and remind the more Col. John C. Thomson, the briseasoned Soldiers the imporStory and photos by Staff Sgt. Kyle J. Richardson 41st Fires Brigade, PAO

gade commander for the 41st Fires Bde. and Tyler, Texas native. “It is our job to put accurate, timely, and decisive fires down range. It’s important that we are able to move our


VOLUME 2, ISSUE 4

THE RAIL GUNNER MONTHLY

JANUARY 2011

Manor creates season greetings Story and photos by Spc. Dalinda Hanna 41st Fires Brigade, PAO

FORT HOOD, Texas— The art students in the sixth and eighth grade art classes at the Manor Middle School, the adopted school for 1st Battalion, 21st Field Artillery Regiment, 41st Fires Brigade, made cards for the First Strike Soldiers and presented the cards to them, Dec. 17. Out of the 120 students which participated in creating Christmas cards for the First Strike Soldiers, the top three students were chosen to present their Christmas cards to the battalion commander and command sergeant major, Lt. Col. James Davel and Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Brinton. The students who participated wanted to give back and show the Soldiers they are loved and remembered this holiday season. “We cherish our partnership with our adopted school Soldiers,” said Danielle Tucker, the campus instructional specialist, originally from Lampasas, Texas. “They work so well with our students, so our art students wanted to give back to them because they know that they are not always with their loved ones during the holiday season. They wanted to show how much they are appreciated.” Qydezia Barrett, an eighth grade student from Tortola, British Virgin Islands, was chosen out of her peers to present the cards to the commander and command sergeant major.

Lt. Col. James Davel, the commander of 1st Battalion, 21st Field Artillery Regiment, 41st Fires Brigade, originally from Shawano, Wis., talks to Jeronico San Nicholas, an eighth grade student at the Manor Middle School, and a native of Dededo, Guam about his Christmas card to the Soldiers of 1st Bat., 21st FA Regt. during a presentation of Christmas cards at the Manor Middle School, Dec 17.

“Creating these cards was a nice thing to do since some Soldiers don’t get to go home for the holidays,” said Barrett. “I wanted to give them something to look forward to this holiday season.” Jeronico San Nicolas, an eighth grade student originally from Dededo, Guam wanted to give back to the Soldiers and thought making a Christmas card was a neat thing to do. “I hope they feel wonderful when they receive my card and feel appreciated, even though it’s not from their family,” said San Nicolas. “I want to tell them to never give up and keep doing what they are doing, so they stay strong and protect the people they are trying to save.” The Soldiers from 1st Bat.,

21st FA Regt. are appreciative and enjoy getting cards from the students at their adoptive school. “The artwork is exceptional and the messages inside are even better,” said Lt. Col. James Davel, commander of 1st Bat., 21st FA Regt, and a native of Shawano, Wis. “It has been a great experience, one of those special holiday moments you like to have, and I know all the Soldiers will be very happy when they get the cards.” During the season for families and of giving, the art students from the Manor Middle School created the best wishes any Soldier or anyone could ever ask for, ones from the heart.


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THE RAIL GUNNER MONTHLY

JANUARY 2011


VOLUME 2

THE RAIL GUNNER MONTHLY

ISSUE 4

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