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A Special Send Off Marine Special Edition

Photo by Rick Willis

Marines and Navy personnel from Washington, Colorado and California, emerging Friday from a Boeing 737, will be part of a 600-person contingent that will participate in the training at Camp Guernsey, Wyo., where 26 semi-trucks of gear worth $92 million are already waiting in place.

The Marines have landed Troops arrive for training By RICK WILLIS Staff Reporter

About 200 people were on hand to watch the Marines land as they headed to Camp Guernsey for their annual training. A massive Boeing 767 landed shortly after noon at West Nebraska Regional Airport, carrying about 180 military personnel who will be bused to Camp Guernsey for training. Two Boeing 737s brought with another 230 trainees. The Artillery 5/14 5th Battalion, 14th Marines, 4th Marine Division is the reserve division of the Marine Corps. Troops are participating in the training exercise Hoplite Thunder, taking place over the next two weeks. “They will have training in small arms, crew-ser ved weapons, hand grenades and gas chamber,” Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Chuck Ellis, USMCR, said

as he watched his troops unload gear from the tarmac. “We also have three firing batteries and an HQ battery.” Oscar and HQ batteries are from Seal Beach in Calif.; Papa Battery is from Spokane, Wash.; and Quebec Battery is from Aurora, Colo. Twenty-six tractor-trailers of equipment were sent to Camp Guernsey for the exercise. Capt. John Stephens, USMC, is the active duty inspector and instructor in charge of getting the equipment in place for the training exercise. “Twenty-eight days a month we set up the equipment so they can use it,” Stephens said. “I’m originally from Omaha, so it’s good to be back in the state.” Ellis said that the Aurora Battery trains at Camp Guernsey. When the battalion needed a place to train the Corps looked into availability, and Guernsey had room. Ellis was surprised at the number of people who were out at the airport. Several had signs supporting the troops. One mom pointed at a serviceman and looking down at her young son said: “That’s a Marine.” “We didn’t know this was such a Courtesy photo big deal,” Ellis said, looking over at the crowd standing at the ter- Marines carried personal gear with them on the plane. The 26 tractor-trailers of equipment were sent minal. “We saw the people as we to Camp Guernsey ahead of the troops for the exercise. Active-duty Inspector and Instructor Marines provide a turnkey operation so the reservists can focus on the training. landed. That’s great.”

Marines participate in training activity at Camp Guernsey By RICK WILLIS Staff Reporter

CAMP GUERNSEY, Wyo. Whump! The car rocked from the compression waves of the M77A2 Howitzer as it fired its 155mm projectile. Several seconds later, the sharp retort of the projectile hitting its mark resounded in the mountain air. “That is the sound of freedom, gentlemen,” Executive Officer Lt. Col. Dave Brooks said as he put his helmet on and walked toward the action. Earlier, Brooks explained the purpose of the Marine reserves. “The force is ready to back up active duty Marines and has already played a major role in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Brooks said. “With our training, when the reserves are called up to step in, we can be integrated seamlessly.” The Artillery 5/14 5th Bn., 14th Marines, 4th Marine Division is the reserve division of the Marine Corps and is halfway through Hoplite Thunder, the annual two-week training period reservists must attend. Six hundred Marines are participating in the exercise held at

Community plans big thank you for Marines By RICK WILLIS Staff Reporter

Photo by Rick Willis

Quebec Battery Marines worked hard to learn skills. Master Sergeant LaVance Buckles, USMC senior O-11 cannoneer, not pictured, explained that safety in training is the overriding concern during drills.

Camp Guernsey, Wyo., Saturday. The three batteries, Oscar Battery from Seal Beach, Calif.; Papa Battery from Spokane, Wash.; and Quebec Batter y from Aurora, Colo.; worked on indirect and direct fire of howitzers. Capt. Sean Glenn, USMCR,

is the commanding of ficer of the Quebec Batter y. “We use the iron sight in direct fire,” Glenn said. “We can fast cycle four rounds per minute and two rounds sustained.” See FREEDOM, page 2

About eight hours. That’s how long it took Sara Schluter to organize a lunch for 400 Marines. The Marines will fly out of Scottsbluff after returning from training maneuvers in Wyoming over the past two weeks. Schluter took over the West Nebraska Regional Airport restaurant about a week ago. Jim Holland, publisher of the Star Herald, called Schluter and others to organize a thank-you event, including food and beverages, before the Marines ship out Friday. “It was another thing,” Schluter said. “I said OK, why not?”

Schluter’s first call was to John Galindo, territory manager for U.S. Food Service. “Whenever I have something like this come up I call John,” Schluter said. “He has wonderful ideas.” Not only does Galindo have great ideas for the Marines, he’s coming into help cook the meal. “It’s pulled pork, carnitas,” Galindo, said. “It’ll take about two to three hours to cook up.” Galindo, a chef, has lived in Scottsbluff for three years now, and previously owned a catering business in Colorado. “I told Sara that I’m coming out there to have fun,” Galindo said. “I just want to help out.” See COMMUNITY, page 3

2 FRIDAY, JULY 23, 2010

A Special Send Off


Photo by Rick Willis

The Quebec Battery out of Aurora Colo., fires the 95-pound 155mm projectile at a target during a direct-fire training mission. The 5-ton M77A2 Howitzer has a range of about 30 kilometers with rocket assist. The dot just above the barrel of gun is the projectile.

FREEDOM: continued from page 1 Direct firing is literally using the howitzer as a big rifle, Glenn said. The gun is almost horizontal to the ground pointed directly at the enemy. In the case of coming under fire, Glenn said the howitzer could be unhitched and operational in about 120 seconds. As Glenn talked, 155mm shells flew overhead from Oscar Company, a couple of kilometers east. The Oscar Company was indirect firing at the same range. Indirect firing takes place when the enemy, or objective, is not in plain sight. In this case, each projectile’s flight took about 30 seconds from smoking gun to detonation on the artiller y range. “Guernsey is a great place to train,” Glenn said, ignoring the shells as they passed overhead. “It’s our little secret. They are ver y accommodating to us. The only show in town that meets

Photos by Rick Willis

ABOVE, LEFT: Decrepit vehicles are used as targets on the firing rage at Camp Guernsey. ABOVE, RIGHT: Laramie Peak provides a backdrop for the smoke floating above the artillery range at Camp Guernsey. Recently detonated 155mm projectiles traveled for 30 seconds after being fired from Oscar Battery before hitting the range. Unlike the movies, the detonation only becomes a fireball when the projectile hits steel. RIGHT: The compression blast from the howitzer can be felt from over 100 yards away.

our needs.” In the center of the artiller y operation is the Fire Direction Center. Staff Sgt. Paul Johnson is the batter y operation chieftechnical. Staf f Sgt. Chad Thresher, batter y operations chief, is the one who receives the call from the for ward obser ver. In figuring the firing solution for each mission the FDC looks several factors including weather conditions and even the rotation of the earth. “We’re the brains. We analyze timing (fuse), elevation, deflection,” Thresher said. “It’s controlled chaos, but ever yone hears their piece of the pie.” Thresher said Johnson monitors the process and procedure makes sure ever ything is in order. “We are a customer ser vice operation. Rarely do we benefit from our own work,” Thresher said. “We are always called by people in a much worse situation than we are. Someone asking for our help is

our motivation.” Sunday is the direct fire competition between the best gun cr ews. Pride and bragging rights are at stake. Taking in all the action is Cpl. Ricardo Cardona, driver for Bn. CO. Lt. Col. Chuck Ellis, USMCR. Cardona was in Iraq for a year, right after he enlisted. More than 75 percent of the men in the exercises have been deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan. “I’m a full-time student,” Cardona said. “I want to become a police officer. You need a degree to become a detective.” While the colonel was watching the artiller y exercise, Cardona was by his tactical vehicle, espousing the merits of the Corps to a young civilian. The civilian was impressed with Cardona’s passion. Brooks said that the Corps gets in the blood. “The time is just flying by. I look for ward to this for months,” Brooks said. “In the Corps we understand the mission, we work hard, and we have a sense of purpose.”

Photo by Rick Willis

The projectiles and powder are kept covered to keep the temperature down. According to Bn. CO. Lt. Col. Chuck Ellis, USMCR, high temperatures can affect the accuracy of the artillery because the powder burns hotter. The firing solution must take meteorological conditions into consideration.

A Special Send Off


Plans made for Marine thank you event COMMUNITY: continued from page 1 It took Ron Ahlers, owner of Gering Baker y, about 45 seconds to agree to make 800 doughnuts for the Marines. The 68 dozen doughnuts will take about an extra 90 minutes to make. “I did about 300 dozen during Oregon Trail Days with all the businesses we ser ve,” Ahlers said. “We pretty much ser ve the region.” Gering Baker y has about six to eight bakers on duty. Ahlers will have to r un 34 mor e screens of doughnuts to fulfill the order. Packagers come in about 2 a.m. to start packaging the doughnuts for the market. Ahlers also has the Rolling Pin in Sidney. “We’re more than that tiny front you see on the main street of Gering,” Ahler said. Jeanne McKerrigan, market

president community banking at US Bank, heard about the event from Steph Black, Program Coordinator at Scottsbluff/Gering Chamber of Commerce and volunteered to provide the water. “How do you keep 20 cases of water cold?” was her first question. “Maybe a small swimming pool?” Coca-Cola is donating soft drinks for the lunch. Calls from volunteers and pie bakers and people making donations to the event have been coming in daily at the Star-Herald. The volunteer detail is filled, but about 10 more pies were still needed as of press time. Donations are still welcome, with any funds above the cost of the event going to the Red Cross. Schluter is excited about being part of the event. “This is just a great thing to do for the guys,” Schluter said. “Part of being in a small town is that you can be part of something great.”

FRIDAY, JULY 23, 2010 3

Operation Hoplite Thank You planned By RICK WILLIS Staff Reporter

From trains to plains, Nebraska hospitality continues. In the tradition of the North Platte Canteen that served six million servicemen and women traveling by train through North Platte from 19411946, the Marines who landed in Scottsbluff last week will be treated to a breakfast and barbecue before they fly out this Friday. The StarHerald is coordinating the meals and is asking 30 people to bake one fruit pie each to provide dessert to Marines at the barbecue. “This is our chance to recognize them here in the community,” Jim Holland, publisher of the Star Herald said. “We wanted to give the people a way to say thank you to the troops.” The Star-Herald is currently coordinating with several vendors to provide a breakfast for all 400 Marines before the first flight out

at 10 a.m. Friday. Just before noon, the remaining Marines will be treated to a barbecue. Hence the pies. The citizens of the Panhandle have a tradition of serving military personnel traveling through Nebraska. Joella Johnson, a Mitchell native, remembers women of the Mitchell American Legion Auxiliary sending cookies on the train to North Platte. “Women would make the cookies and then take them to the Mitchell train depot,” Johnson said. “They’d hand them to the man in the caboose and he knew where to drop them in North Platte.” Johnson said that she also knew women who sent cookies from Hemingford on the train to North Platte. Johnson said that because of gas rationing few people could drive to North Platte but when someone would drive, they would take a load of cookies. Pies donated

to the Marines should be dropped off at the airport Friday morning or at the Star-Herald on Thursday afternoon before 5 p.m. The Marines will wrap up Hoplite Thunder training at Camp Guernsey and will arrive at the Scottsbluff airport about 8 a.m. on Friday morning. The Patriot Guard Riders are planning a mission to accompany the Marines to the airport. Operation Hoplite Thank You is also looking for tables and chairs to seat 400, four 100-cup coffee percolators, about 20 people to serve at breakfast and lunch and donations to offset the costs of the food. If 200 people donate $10 each, the cost of the meals would be paid. Everyone donating to the barbecue by 5 p.m. Wednesday will be listed in the paper on Friday morning. Any proceeds remaining after the costs will be donated to the Red Cross. The Red Cross has a long history of helping military personnel.

Photos by Rick Willis

Troops form up before heading to offload the plane. This Friday morning the Marines will reload the planes prior to taking off to go home, hopefully having a few doughnuts and coffee before the early flights.

ABOVE: After placement of the howitzers on the firing line and instruction on proper procedure, Marines take a break before commencing the exercise of the day. Camouflaged netting provided the only shade in the 90-plus degree heat. RIGHT: Sometimes all you can do is wait.

LEFT: Battallion Commander Lt. Col. Chuck Ellis, USMCR is briefed upon arrival at Western Nebraska Regional Airport Western Nebraska Scottbluff ABOVE: In the center of the artillery operation is the Fire Direction Center. In figuring the firing solution for each mission the FDC looks several factors including weather conditions and even the rotation of the earth. Two computers are on the truck and can digitally send a solution. Charts are also used for back-up. One FDC Marine said he always wanted to blow things up and saw his job as “Long distance death dealing.”

A Special Send Off

4 FRIDAY, JULY 23, 2010




who donated sugar, pie, plates, coffee us, “These Marines may not be my Marine, but they are someone’s loved creamer, has two active-duty daughters in the service and a son who was one and we should celebrate their sacrifice.” in the Corps for five Well over 100 people years. These Marines have pledged some sort “I am so appreciative may not be my of support. While some and my heart goes out Marine, but they companies were asked to all those kids in the early on to help, many Military. I really know are someone’s loved what they go through,” one and we should cele- others have called to offer services. Genz said. “I want to do brate their sacriWhen Ed Morgheim, something. You can’t t’s what we expected. fice. Coca-Cola, heard with out of your heart give Citizen support in providing food the lunch was for the what you feel. But when and goods for the send off of they are far from home Marines who have been visiting our — Parents of Marines, he told Randy Smith, on premise manmaybe you can project area has been overwhelming. Pies, active-duty troops ager for Coke, “Take that feeling to let them volunteers and donations are coming care of them.” Magnolia know someone back in a steady stream. The Marines are Homes called with tables and seating home knows and loves them.” wrapping up training in Camp for 275 and set the tables up at the Delores Jorgensen’s brother, Bob Guernsey and flying out of the airport. Panhandle Coop Plaza Foods was a MaBredenkamp, Scottsbluff airport on I am so apprecia- rine who served in Viet- first offered pies, and when the reFriday. Why would we do this tive and my heart nam. Two other brothers sponse was overwhelming offered ice and coolers for the water and juice inwere in the service as for a group of men we goes out to all those well. Her oldest brother stead. The employees of Reganis Auto never met and may nevkids in the Militar y. Center took up a collection of $265. has two boys serving er see again? Friday morning 400 Marines will While many Americans I really know what they our country. come back through our community. The Marines officially argue over red or blue, go through. I want to do While they are in our care, we will promay be the Artillery western Nebraska is something. You can’t vide food, support and a brief rest. We 5/14 5th Bn., 14th taking time out for the give out of your heart may never see them again, but we Marines 4th Marine Dired, white and blue. hope that’s not so. They will be flying what you feel. But when vision based in Most of us have family home to civilian life, at least until their who have served, or are they are far from home Spokane, Wash., Seal next deployment. So far, about 75 perand Pico Beach, Beach serving our country tomaybe you can project cent of these Marines have seen acCalif., and Aurora, day. A sense of patriotic that feeling to let them Colo., but above all tive duty in Iraq or Afghanistan. duty runs deep. We hope that if they are deployed they’re Americans. They Every town in the val- know someone back again, and come into harm’s way, that have put their civilian ley has someone who home knows and they will make it through. Our thanks lives on hold to train has participated. loves them. for their service, and prayers for their and fight to protect our Chuck Willson, of Gersafety, go with them on their journey. nation. They are coning, dropped off $20. — Editorial as printed in the Thursstudents, fedtractors, His great-grandson just — Deborah Genz day, July 22, 2010, Star-Herald. The eral marshals, busienlisted in the Marines nessmen and folks from every walk of “Our View” editorials are written by and and is at Camp Pendleton. Willson’s life. reflect the consensus of the Star-Herald grandson is also a Marine. The parents of active-duty troops tell Editorial Board. Deborah Genz, of Banner County,


Support for Marine events has been overwhelming

Special thanks to all of the donors Randy and Vicki Burbach, Karen Carrington, Daryl Wills, David Rice, Kurt and Leah Nikont, Rudy and Cora Hernandez, Rudy and Angie Hernandez, Tom and Vanessa Hernandez, Vera Dulaney, Shelly Knudson, William and Donna Lindgren, Mary Sorensen, Agromac International,

George and Nadynne Schaaf, Judy K. Crane, Lynn Herdt, Steve McLean, Charmaine Uhrig, Darwin Skelton, John Merriggan, Gene Cochran, Jerry Austin, Ralph Beliel, Steven Blanco, Brian Brown, Christeleit, Georgene Curran, Dennis Drumheller, Robert Ford, Jeff Gion, James Goodrick, Linsy Greene, Jonathan Hernandez, Doug Horn, Hutsell, Jay Ingwersen, Jeremy Campbell, Scott

Kaufman, Michael Kraft, Laurie Kurtz, Steve Mackrill, Elisha Marlin, Clint Marsh, JR Maurer, Dave McClellan, Brenda McKelvey, Roy Nichols, Susan Wiedeman, Rudy Perez, John Plaster. Jr., Danile Ramirez, Tim Reganis, Greg Rein, Todd Robertus, Tom Rohrick, Jeremy Rotherham, Joe Rutan, Kevin Sandberg, Nicholas Schanaman, Scott Wickard, Benjamin Wiedeman, James Wilke, Terry Self, Deborah Genz, Jean Hilderman, Helen Becking, Rick and Marilyn Cotant, Art Benzel, Gene Cochran, Sherry

Cochran, Jim Cochran, Gary Hitchcock, Bertha Cochran, Shannon Crane, RaeAnn Schmitz, Gary Hessler, Don and Sandy Preston, Roger Morris Trucking, Cheryl Clause, Bob Unzicker, Don Overman, Neal Smith, Dick Douglas, Virgil and Marilyn Kent, Jim and Mary Moseley, Ronald Hoffman, George and Betty Lindeken, Mel Yenney, Charles Willson, Dick Elliott, James Messingan, Dick and Sherry Blaha, Linda Clark, Sam Willis, Jennifer Muhr, Ruth Brown, Homer Charo, Ruth Brown, Kathy Eastman, Jennifer McCormick, Annaka McCormick, Bonnie Ott, Pat Gribble, Jean

Kearnes, Dave Knutz, Marie and Rod Smith, Deborah Genz, Rhonda O’Bryan, Shirley Piester, Carol Rice, Fran Bitner, Salazar Family, Janice Newhoff, Mary Ann Closson, Joella Johnson, Joyce Ferguson, Evelyn Ott, Jeanie Williams, Patriot Guard Riders, Connie McDonnough, Kara Rada, Zadee Rada, Jennifer McCormick, Annaka McCormick, Denise Roussel, Nick Roussel, Kiki Sorensen, Bonnie Ott, Jean Kearns, Cassie Nichols, Kim Johns, Deborah Genz, Ruth Brown, Homer Charo, Coca-Cola, U.S. Bank, U.S. Food Service, Sky Port Restaurant, Gering Bakery, Regional West Medical Center, Ron and Sara Schluter, Hampton Inn, Gering Civic Center, Red Cross, Grace Chapel, American Legion, Shirley Piestra, Delores Jorgensen, Jim Merrigan

Operation HopliteThank You  

A Special Send Off | Marine Special Edition