Paratroopers from the 18th Fires Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, boarded a Boeing C-17 Globemaster aircraft, in the early morning hours April 11, at Pope Army Air Field bound for Fort Sill Okla. to take part in the first airborne insertion and live fire exercise at Fort Sill since 2005.

During the mission a High Mobility Rocket Artillery System belonging to 3rd Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment (HIMARS), 18th Fires Brigade, was flown in to Henry Army Airfield, Okla., it then drove to Snow Ridge Drop Zone, Fort Sill, Okla., and fired six live rockets. Also, during the mission, an M777A, 155mm howitzer from, 1st Battalion, 321st Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 18th Fires Brigade, was successfully airdropped from a C-17 aircraft on to Snow Ridge DZ. Following the howitzer over 100 Paratroopers from the 18th Fires Brigade jumped into the same drop zone, prepared and fired live rounds from the howitzer.

As America’s global response force, units from the 82nd Airborne Division are ready at a moment’s notice to respond anywhere in the world. The exercise at Fort Sill gave Paratroopers from the 18th Fires Brigade an opportunity to jump into an unfamiliar drop zone and exercise their skills as world leading artillerymen.

“The purpose of this exercise was to train on our Global Response Mission,” said Lt. Col. James A. Wanovich, commander, 1st Battalion, 321st Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 18th Fires Brigade. “That is to alert, marshal and deploy within 18 hours anywhere in the world, conduct a parachute assault and provide long range precision fires to the Brigade Combat Teams of the 82nd Airborne Division.”

After the training, some of the Paratroopers had an opportunity to talk to Soldiers conducting Basic Combat Training and Advanced Initial Training at Fort Sill, Okla. They spoke about their experiences as Paratroopers in the 82nd Airborne Division and the importance of every job in the airborne community. During the visit the Paratroopers offered words of encouragement to the young Soldiers telling them to continue pushing for their goals.

Wanovich said, “Don’t give up”

The 18th Fires Brigade and 82nd Airborne Division have set themselves apart as world-wide leaders in the military community and truly embody what it means to be a Paratrooper. With exercises like the Fort Sill Airborne live fire exercise and other joint operational exercises the 82nd Airborne Division and its subordinate units stay ready to deploy and accomplish any mission requiring the specialized attention of America’s Guard of Honor.