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Howitzer booms at Pendleton

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (Aug. 11, 2005) -- Earthquakes aren't the only things rumbling in southern California.


Submitted by: MCB Camp Pendleton
Story Identification #: 200581111616
Story by Lance Cpl. Ray Lewis

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (Aug. 11, 2005) -- Earthquakes aren't the only things rumbling in southern California.

2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, is breaking sound barriers with the M777 Howitzer-and for the first time, firing it at Camp Pendleton.

The artillery unit manned the cannon Tuesday to get familiar with the weapon that could be the future for artillery.

“It should be the weapon of choice for the 21st century,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joseph M. Steet, battalion survey officer.

More importantly, the battalion is gearing up for Iraq with the newly fielded weapon system.

Positioned north of Las Flores, the remote field was sure to give the Marines plenty of practice space.

Howitzer cannoneers crouched under the canopies of camouflage netting waiting for their radio signal.

As soon as their tent received the call, the crew scurried to position themselves around the weapon.

Once every member was stationed, the team sent a round howling out the Howitzer puffing gusts of gray smoke.

The blast from the weapon rippled the air with its sound waves.

Unfortunately, it’s a disadvantage that comes with both old and new howitzers projecting a 155mm round miles in to the air.

However, both howitzers had their advantages.

“I miss the old Howitzers. The trails on the old Howitzers acted like a (wrestling ring), so when any other crews came over we’d wrestle or practice MCMAP,” Magpusao said.

“I don’t miss carrying it though,” Magpusao added.

That’s because the old M198 Howitzer weighed nearly 16 tons, while the M777 weighs 9 tons.

“It’s lighter,” plainly said Cpl. Robert L. Smith, Battery G, 2/11, driver.

If hooked up to a lunette, or carrying device, one Marine can carry it because it then feels like it only weighs 60 pounds, which makes it faster to transport, hitch and unhitch off of trucks.

Ultimately, 11th Marines are glad they can serve their country doing what they enjoy.

“We like our new Howitzer. It’s faster, lighter – period,” Sgt. Thomas L. Wilson, Battery G, 2/11 section chief.