By Army Sgt. 1st Class James Aloffo
Special to American Forces Press Service
Iraq, Aug. 20, 2008 - A deployed artilleryman assigned to Battery A, 5th Battalion, 25th Artillery Regiment, finds himself in an unusual role. Army Pfc. Jonathon Owens, who hails from Norwich, Conn., is a cannon crewmember, but he has yet to touch a cannon since his arrival to eastern Baghdad in November. Instead, he is fulfilling an unfamiliar role in Multinational Division Baghdad as a member of a dismounted maneuver fire team with Battery A, 5th Battalion, 25th Artillery Regiment, which is part of the 10th Mountain Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team.
This nontraditional role is not necessarily unusual for artillerymen deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In fact, Owens said, he finds his new role both challenging and exciting, because each day brings something just a little bit different.
"It's pretty wild," he said. "Sometimes we're out doing combat patrols in the morning or afternoon, and that night we might be doing a raid with the Iraqi Army to take bad guys off the street."
Even though Owens is trained to serve as a cannon crew member, he is highly successful as a member of a maneuver fire team. He has earned the respect of his leaders and his peers.
"Owens is a tough soldier," said Army Cpl. Jorge Delgado, a native of Boynton Beach, Fla., who is Owens' team leader. "When dismounted, he carries the squad automatic weapon. It's quite a burden when you take into account the extra 400 rounds he carries for it, but he does it well -- extremely well."
Another noncommissioned officer in the platoon agrees. "Pfc. Owens is a dependable soldier who can get the job done," Army Sgt. Derrick Randle, a native of Gainesville, Fla., said.
(Army Sgt. 1st Class James Aloffo serves in Multinational Division Baghdad with the 10th Mountain Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office.)