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VOLUME 2

THE RAIL GUNNER MONTHLY

ISSUE 8

Inside this issue Charles B. Allen Bass Fishing Tournament

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Fundraising yard sale

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Officer PT Challenge

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Volunteer Recognition

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Promotions

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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 Staff Sgt. Kyle J. Richardson, 41st Fires Brigade PAO From left to right, Cindy Allen, wife of the late Brig. Gen Allen, stands with the team of Sgt. Joseph Rewerts, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 41st Fires Brigade and 1st Sgt. Efrain Lozano, 1st Battalion, 15th Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, and her son, Brian Allen, during the Brig. Gen. Charles B. Allen Memorial Bass Tournament, April 9. Rewerts and Lozano will have their names inscribed on the plaque that will hang in the Charles B. Allen Hall for winning the tournament.

Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Kyle J. Richardson 41st Fires Brigade, PAO

Soldiers with the 41st Fires Brigade conducted the second annual Brig. Gen. Charles B. Allen Memorial Bass Tournament in Harker Heights, Texas at Dana Peak, April 9. Sixty boaters comprised of Rail

Gunners, other Fort Hood Soldiers, and local bass anglers, paired up to face the rough waters in honor of Allen‟s memory and for a chance to reel in the prize winning catch. The Rail Gunners and bass anglers traded the heavy rains from last year‟s tournament to the strong 35mile an hour winds of this year‟s tournament. See BASS on Page 3


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MAY 2011

Rail Gunner 6 & 9 Send

Colonel John C. Thomson, III 41st Fires Brigade Dear Rail Gunner Family: We remain extremely proud of our Soldiers and Families and are happy to report that the brigade continues to achieve excellence on many fronts. Recent achievements include the Army Maintenance Excellence Award by B Battery, 2-20 FA as the best in the entire U.S. Army, and our brigade food service team that took second place in the 13th Sustainment Command‟s culinary arts competition. We also have five Rail Gunners training on the Fort Hood team for the upcoming All-Army Combatives tournament that will be held at Fort Hood later this summer. Our current operational status is as a Fires Brigade Contingency Expeditionary Force (CEF), available for world-wide deployment on short notice. Thus, our primary job is to remain trained and ready should our Nation call. We greatly appreciate everyone‟s teamwork and dedication in this critical endeavor. In the meantime, we will continue to conduct rigorous training in the local area, provide vital installation support, and still have time for rest and

relaxation with friends and Family. One of our most important missions is to support Cadet Summer Training for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York from May 13 to August 13, 2011. 2-20th FA is leading this effort and will command Task Force Strike at Camp Natural Bridge on the West Point reservation. Task Force Strike will ultimately comprise 660 Soldiers from five different installations across the country, including 240 Rail Gunners. This is a super opportunity for our Soldiers to train our country‟s future leaders and we are confident that they will do an outstanding job. While a three month deployment is tough, the Soldiers that go to West Point return well before school starts and have the opportunity to take block leave upon redeployment. For those units remaining at Fort Hood, you can expect to conduct field training exercises on the Fort Hood reservation and support critical garrison events at Fort Hood that ensure our security and quality of life. We also have plenty of opportunities for fun, camaraderie, and comprehensive fitness. Single Soldier Day is being observed on Friday, May 13th in the Abrams Gym parking lot and Chaplain Vieira is organizing a Strong Bonds marriage retreat May 13-15. On May 10th at 10:00 a.m., the 1st Cavalry Division is recognizing our special volunteers from this past February and March. Congratulations are in order for Mrs. Katrina Patton and SGT Betty Robinson of 589th BSB, Mrs. Megan Mendenhall and Mrs. Ann Vandiver of 2-20 FA, Mrs. Sonya Jones and Mrs. Heidi Mote of 1-21 FA, SGT Calvin Lockwood of 324th NSC, and SFC Armando Rivera of HHB, 41st Fires Brigade. Additionally, Mrs. Samantha Cookman will be recognized at the May 19th Hood Heroes Luncheon as the Brigade Volunteer of 2nd Quarter (January thru March 2011). As we look forward to the Memorial Day holiday, I encourage everyone to

Command Sergeant Major Kelvin A. Hughes 41st Fires Brigade CSM enjoy the well-deserved long weekend May 27 to 30, but to keep in mind the real reason we celebrate Memorial Day. Please take a moment to remember the countless heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our great Nation. Although not in our physical presence, their memory is always with us and they will never be forgotten. Memorial Day also marks the start of the 101 days of summer through the Labor Day weekend in September. With warmer, longer days and our children‟s school year winding down, folks are planning travel, outdoor fun, and water activities. We ask that everyone put safety first – employ battle buddies, respect the heat, use the right protective equipment, don‟t over estimate your own abilities, wear seat belts, obey speed limits, and be responsible with alcohol. We need every member of the Rail Gunner Family to make the 101 Days of Summer Campaign safe and disciplined. Rail Gunner Safe is Rail Gunner Strong! To all of our wonderful mothers in the Rail Gunner Family - thank you for all you do and best wishes for a Happy Mothers Day!

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 8 BASS cont. from Page 1

Joseph Welch, principle at Manor Middle School, changes his lures out during the tournament.

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learn from him, but I can tell he left behind a legacy.” The winds continued to pick up and toss the boats back and forth, but determined boaters continued to cast their lines looking for the biggest big bass Stillhouse had to offer. Also the memorial tournament allowed Soldiers who didn‟t have a way to fish to participate. “You can‟t help but to think about Brig. Gen. Allen every time you throw your line out in the water,” said Spc. Tamara Becker, a medic with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 41st Fires Bde., and Venice, Fla. native. “It‟s great to know that his memory has brought us all out here to celebrate his name and do something we normally wouldn‟t get a chance to do.” The top two winners did not fare as well this year. Sgt. 1st Class Lewis Decker, a military police officer with the 720th Military Police Battalion held the record for having the highest combined weight totaling more than

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Lt. Col. James Davel, commander for 1st Battalion, 21st Field Artillery Regiment, 41st Fires Brigade, catches a bass during the Brig. Gen. Charles B. Allen Memorial Bass Tournament. More than 60 Soldiers and bass anglers participated in the tournament.

“As my husband used to say, 15 pounds. However this year, „There‟s never a bad day for Decker and his partner were fishing,‟” said Cindy Allen, wife only able to catch a little more of the late brigadier general. “My than six pounds. Brian Allen, last husband was an avid sportsyear‟s biggest largemouth bass man. Fishing was a way of life to winner with a bass weighing him. Our whole family is honclose to seven pounds, reeled in ored by the 41st Fires Bde. a bass weighing one and a half keeping his memory alive by dopounds. ing something he loved the 1st Sgt. Efrain Lozano, and most.” Sgt. Joseph Rewerts, With the winds increascame away as the ing the challenge of the tournament winners tournament, Cliff Brown, and the big bass wintournament director, anners. They were able nounced the first call at to catch an eight 6:50 a.m. Thirty-one boats pound bass and had pulled away from the pier a combined weight of and maneuvered the lake 11 and a half pounds. looking for that perfect Their names will be spot to fish and most imthe second set of portantly to honor a great names inscribed on leader form the brigade‟s the plaque the hangs past. in the Charles B. Al“Brig. Gen. Allen was a len hall. The team great leader,” said Capt. claimed more than Neil Ruiz, from New York $1,200 in prize City, tournament coordimoney and will have 1st Sgt. Efrain Lozano (left), 115th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat nator. “It‟s unfortunate Team, 1st Cavalry Division, and Sgt. Joseph Rewerts, Headquarters and Headquarters bragging rights for the 41st Fires Brigade, won the Brig. Gen. Charles B. Allen Memorial Bass that I never had a chance Battery, rest of the year. Tournament at Stillhouse Hollow Lake April 9. The team reeled in a bass weighing to meet him [Allen] nor seven pounds and 48 ounces.


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MAY 2011

First Strike spouses raise money for “Cure” Story and photos by Spc. Dalinda Hanna 41st Fires Brigade, PAO

Tiffany Draves (left), and her daughter Bailey, look through household items during the “Boobie Brigade” yard sale fundraiser. The yard sale benefits the Susan G. Komen Walk for the Cure Foundation.

Clothes, toys, dishware, and other accessories lined the tables as the “Boobie Brigade,” comprised of Fort Hood spouses, held a yard sale to benefit the Susan G. Komen Walk for the Cure Foundation, March 18-19. Some of the spouses from Battery C, 1st Battalion, 21st Field Artillery Regiment, 41st Fires Brigade, are scheduled to participate in a 60-mile walk in November and pledged to raise $2,300 each. The walk is a three-day event where cancer survivors and supporters walk to raise money for breast cancer research and support programs. Samantha Cookman, of Miles City, Mont., a stay-at-home mother of two children, has

wanted to participate in a walk for many years, and committed to raising $2,300 at the event registration. “There is a lot of breast cancer in my family, so it is near and dear to my heart,” said Cookman. “I feel honored to be able to walk and am excited about being able to participate with like-minded people for a great cause. Ruth Wheeler, from Copperas Cove, Texas, the family readiness group leader for the battery, made completing the walk a New Year‟s resolution and said that the support from the families around the brigade is tremendous. “Samantha [Cookman] and Hanna looks through a row of toys during the I looked up information about Marlena “Boobie Brigade” breast cancer awareness yard sale. the walk and decided to sign out by setting up and picking up up,” said Wheeler. “We have donations. We had a lot of peoreceived a lot of donations and ple come by and buy stuff, so support from the families, and the fundraiser is going well.” we owe a lot to them for helpCompleting the 60-mile walk ing make this event successwill be difficult, but the women in ful.” the “Boobie Brigade” have the The women of the “Boobie attitude to complete the mission Brigade” said that they couldn‟t successfully. do it without the continued support of their spouses, family, and friends. Sgt. Jefferson Cookman, originally from Rosebud, Mont., said he supports his wife and tries to help as much as he can with the fundraisers. “I am very proud of her for supporting such a great cause,” said Soldiers and Family members of Battery C, 1st Battalion, 21st Field Artillery Regiment conducts a yard sale to raise $2,300 for the Susan G. Komen Walk for Cookman. “I help the Cure Foundation. The walk is a three-day, 60 mile event.


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Rail Gunners compete for fittest team Story and photos by Spc. Dalinda Hanna 41st Fires Brigade, PAO

The competition was fierce as 158 officers throughout the 41st Fires Brigade teamed up and competed to see which unit team and individual ranked the highest in physical fitness during the Rail Gunner‟s Officer Physical Fitness challenge on Fort Hood, Texas, March 22. Anticipation swelled to see which team could push their way to the top. As the competition end, the participants had to wait a week for the results. Finally, the scores were calculated and the award ceremony was held to honor the best Rail Gunner team and individuals who scored more than a 300 during the competition, at Club Hood, March 29. This competition was unlike the past competitions because one Soldier and one non-

Officers and noncommissioned officers participate in the 2-mile run during the 41st Fires Brigade Officer Physical Fitness Challenge. One noncommissioned officer from each battery was allowed to participate in this year.

commissioned officer from every battery were invited to join a team and compete against the officers to earn the

Officers and noncommissioned officers participate in the pushup event during the 41st Fires Brigade Officer Physical Fitness Challenge. The team and competitors who scored more than a 300 in the challenge was recognized in an award ceremony.

title of the most physically fit Rail Gunner. In addition to the individual achievements, the individual scores were tallied to average a team score. The team with the highest score would win the commander‟s cup with their unit name inscribed on the plaque and bragging rights until the next competition. After a suspenseful wait for the results, the winning team was 1st Battalion, 21st Field Artillery Regiment who won with an average of 290.5. Maj. Michael Smith, the executive officer for 1st Bat., 21st FA Regt., accepted the cup for the battalion and said everyone trained hard to win the cup. “After losing the commander's cup on the last Rail Gunner APFT, we worked hard See CHALLENGE on Page 6


VOLUME 2, ISSUE 8 CHALLENGE cont. from Page 5

and trained even harder knowing we had to bring the cup home,” said Smith. “We intend to keep the commander's cup and will strive to increase our average for the next Rail Gunner APFT challenge.” Col. John C. Thomson, commander of 41st Fires Bde., said that while the actual event is individual, the essence of the competition makes it a team event. “This competition is unique because everyone assigned to

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1st Battalion, 21st Field Artillery Regiment, 41st Fires Brigade officers celebrate after winning the commander’s cup during the 41st Fires Brigade Officer Physical Fitness Challenge, at the award ceremony. The First Strike officers achieved an average score of 290.5, the highest score and bragging rights as the most physically fit team.

2nd Lt. Jeremy Minarik, receives an Army Commendation Medal for earning the highest score of 379 during the 41st Fires Brigade Officer Physical Fitness Challenge. The Rail Gunners held an award ceremony to honor the officers and Soldiers that achieved more than a 300 during the competition.

the unit counts. Soldiers on profiles, leave, or temporary duty, get 180,” said Thomson. “It encourages unit pride and participation because a unit is only as strong as its weakest link.” The 42 officers and 18 enlisted Soldiers who scored more than a 300 were recognized with coins and certificates during the ceremony. The second and third place scorers received an Army Achievement Medal and the highest scorer

MAY 2011

was honored with an Army said that he was honored to Commendation Medal. represent the enlisted Soldiers. The highest score of 379 “I was motivated to do better was attained by 2nd Lt. Jerknowing that I was chosen to emy Minarik, a native of participate and represent the Bloomington, Ind., and a field enlisted Soldiers in my battery,” artillery officer for Battery A, said St. John. “There was a lot 1st Bat., 21st FA Regt. Minarik of competition and definitely gave credit to unit functional more difficult than a regular PT fitness program for his high test.” score and challenges every With this competition over Soldier to give 110 percent and another planned, Rail Gunduring physical fitness. ner Soldiers and officers will “You don‟t need to spend continue to train to surpass all hours at the gym to get results expectations. if you give 110 percent during PT,” said Minarik. “I challenge each and every one of my Soldiers on a daily basis during PT and set the bar pretty high. The enlisted and noncommissioned officers chosen to participate in the competition proved themselves to be commendable opponents for even the fittest officers. Spc. Colton St. John, a native Denton, Texas, and an air traffic controller for Headquarters and HeadLt. Col Stephen Carpenter, receives an Army Achievement Medal quarters Battery, 41st Fires at an award ceremony for earning the second highest score during 41st Fires Brigade Officer Physical Fitness Challenge. The Bde., was selected to par- the award ceremony honored the 42 officers and 18 enlisted Soldiers ticipate in the competition, that earned more than a 300 during the challenge.


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Rail Gunners honor their volunteers Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Kyle J. Richardson 41st Fires Brigade, PAO

More than 90 volunteers throughout the 41st Fires Brigade were honored during the brigade‟s volunteer recognition award ceremony held on Fort Hood at Club Hood, April 13. The ceremony was held during the National Volunteer Week. The Rail Gunner Soldiers and family members received awards for various events and acts that took place throughout the community and even in the Dallas area. Some of the volunteers were honored for their time spent helping the sick in children‟s hospitals, the USO, coaching and much more. The volunteers were honored with brigade certificates of achievements, the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, the Certificate of

Pfc. Lyka Cabigon, received the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal for volunteering her time at the USO on Fort Hood. Cabigon said she comes from a long line of volunteers and that she helps her family with their volunteer organization back in the Philippines.

The supporters of the 41st Fires Brigade pose with the Rail Gunner leadership during the brigade’s volunteer recognition ceremony. The brigade supporters provided assistance throughout the brigade by various means.

Achievement for Patriotic Civilian Service, or the Commander‟s Award for Public Service. The Rail Gunner‟s volunteer ceremony was a small way to show appreciation and honor in one day out of the year for those who sacrifice their time throughout the year. “It‟s important to recognize our volunteers because they do so much,” said Andrea Nunez, Killeen, Texas native and the family readiness support assistant for the 41st Fires Bde. “We just want them to know what they do is appreciated, and we want them to continue volunteering. It takes a special person to volunteer. I commend our Soldiers and family members who volunteered because I know their time is very limited.” Most of the Soldiers and family members being recognized were surprised to receive an

award or recognition. “I didn‟t find out that I was receiving an award until today,” said Easter Thomas, Bishopville, South Carolina native, a daycare owner and spouse of Sgt. 1st Class Patrick Thomas with the 41st Fires Bde. “We volunteered for fun, not to be recognized.

Shaunta Underwood hugs Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Brinton after receiving her certificate of appreciation for patriotic civilian service.

See CHALLENGE on Page 8


VOLUME 2, ISSUE 8 VOLUNTEERS cont. from Page 7

Easter Thomas receives her certificate of achievement from Capt. James Moffitt, commander of the Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 41st Fires Brigade, during the volunteer ceremony.

Volunteering was something the whole family could do and enjoy. We just appreciated being able to give some of our time to help out.” Everyone who volunteered had different reasons and motivation for volunteering, however, all the volunteers had one common goal: to help those in

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need. “I like to help other people, it reminds me of home,” said Pfc. Lyka Cabigon, Manila, Philippines native, a food service specialist for the 67th Forward Support Company, 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery Regiment, 41st Fires Bde. “My family runs an organization in the Philippines where we volunteer all the time to help the less fortunate. Volunteering is something that I have to do. It‟s just a part of me.” Like Cabigon, other volunteers followed her lead to help when and wherever possible. “Volunteering comes from the heart,” said Sgt. 1st Class Armando Rivera, Brownsville, Texas native, an equal opportunity advisor with the Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 41st Fires Bde. “When you volunteer, you shouldn‟t expect anything in return except knowing that you‟ve done something good in the lives of others.”

Capt. Peter Hwang, Pfc. Lyka Cabigon, and Sgt. 1st Class Armando Rivera, pose with the 41st Fires Brigade command teams during the 41st Fires Bde. volunteer ceremony. Hwang, Cabigon, and Rivera all received the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal for their support in the community.

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Alicia Hubert, 16, receives a brigade certificate of appreciation during the 41st Fires Bde. volunteer ceremony. Hubert prepares for her first stock car race in November.

Rivera coaches boxing at Miracle Boxing Club assisting fighters to achieve their boxing goals. The Rail Gunners may only host the recognition ceremony once a year, but the hard work and sacrifices of the 41st Fires Bde. volunteers will continue to be honored all year long.

Sgt. 1st Class Armando Rivera received the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal during the brigade’s volunteer award ceremony. Rivera received his award for volunteering his time at Miracle Boxing Club in Killeen. He helps coaching amateurs to professional fighters.


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VOLUME 2

THE RAIL GUNNER MONTHLY

ISSUE 8

1-21st FA

Spc. Steven Mellinger SFC Andrew Land SSG Robert Haring 2-20th FA

Spc. Kirk Chimelewski Spc. Michael Hoyt Spc. Christopher Stange 589th BSB

Sgt. Hector Ortiz

Spc. Devon Collins Spc. Bryce Honeycutt Cpl. Kimberly Sweet

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The May edition of the Rail Gunner Monthly  

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