I spent about 18 months in the 153rd Field Artillery Brigade of the Arizona Army National Guard, from around the time I was commissioned in May, 1989, until I joined the 432nd Civil Affairs Company, in December, 1990, for Desert Storm. I was the 153rd’s commo officer.
When I pulled into the Butcher Jones recreation site in 2015, I realized I had been there before: One weekend, the 153rd had a compass course / morale event there. I have that kind of memory for places.
We did two shoots while I was with the 153rd: One at the range near Florence, Arizona, and the other way out at White Sands Missile Range.
Our M109 self-propelled 155s were railed to and from White Sands, while we took two days to convoy there, and another two days back. (We overnighted at the National Guard armory in either Lordsburg or Deming, New Mexico; I can’t remember which.)
What I remember about the FTX was that one of the troops — not mine! — got heat stroke. That you better make sure what you sign for, or you could end up paying for it years later. A very attractive female soldier, supposedly once Miss Armed Forces Europe, spent nights in a truck with a lucky male soldier. It is possible to see high velocity artillery rounds go down range if you stand right behind the tube when it fires. An artillery brigade has a meterologist who sends up weather balloons to calculate the effects of wind, humidity, etc., at different elevations, on trajectory. Policing stray paper is not a good idea when it has been used as ass wipe. That it is possible to lose an entire M109 battery in sand dunes.
Twenty-eight years later, I returned to White Sands Missile Range to hike the White Sands National Monument. The drive went a lot quicker at 80 mph than it did at 55 mph! 😉