Here in the US many fire departments work their people 24 hours on, 24 or so off, etc. Well, there’s different kind of fire department working to support our troops in the Mideast. These guys are artillerymen and they work out of a Fire Support Base. Like the fire dept, they never know when or if they’ll be called during a shift—or, if called, what the challenge will be. As a guy who spent a lot of time on the ground in Vietnam as an infantryman, I know how important these guys are.br /br /Like firefighters, much of their duty time is spent waiting—until the call comes in. Then they jump into action with the cry of “Fire mission.” One such group of cannon-cockers, whose nickname is the misfits, is typical. They drop what they’re doing. Phones hang up, video games are paused, and computers turn off as the artillerymen ready themselves for their mission. It normally takes 5 minutes to have rounds ready to go downrange. They can “reach out and touch someone” as far as 18 miles away.”There’s an uneasy tension as you run down to the gun line,” said 1st Lt. Regan Tatford, fire direction officer and plt leader for the misfits. “The uncertainty of not knowing what the mission is for, really gets your adrenaline pumping.” Using the M198 155 mm howitzer they’re able to keep forward maneuvering units from getting ambushed at night with illumination rounds as well as fire support when patrols come into heavy contact. Oftentimes, the enemy is unaware of the artillery until it’s too late for them, and just in time for our troops. When the bullets are flying, everyone is very happy to have our artillerymen in support on our side.