During lunch I sat and talked with Sergeant Bivens, the “Gun Chief” of Gun 1. He offered to give me a tour of his “Gun Pitt” and show me the ropes of how 155mm artillery worked. “Come over after the convoy arrives.” (Ammo trucks had to be unloaded first.)
I took him up on the offer; Bivens with his six-man crew walked me through the process of firing a round. First a fuse was attached to the 95 pound round before loading it into the gun tube. Then a bagged powder charge was pushed in place behind the round, and the breech was closed. After that, a charge with a blasting cap was inserted into the primer unit, and the gun was ready to fire. Pulling the lanyard would trigger the firing pin . . . the round would then fire. the process was a bit complicated but gave me a basic understanding of the sequence involved in firing a gun.
The battery’s wind-up siren went off . . . “Fire Mission!” Bivens pointed to a wooden box and said, “Sit.” The coordinates came in through his headset, and he rotated the gun into position. The progression of fusing a round and loading the gun was happening as I sat and watched. Someone warned me to cover my ears, and Bivens pulled the lanyard. KABOOM! The guns were firing six rounds each – the mission was completed in less than three minutes.
The crew was laughing at me when the fire mission was over. It was a powerful demonstration, and I was amazed at the precision involved; there was no room for error. These kids had a difficult job and were always ready, day and night, to support the Grunts in the field.