1221st Transportation Co. qualifies on weapons

A Soldier with the 1221st Transportation Company fires an M-16 rifle during weapons qualification at Fort Campbell, Ky. (Photo by Ashley Ward)

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. -- Soldiers from the Missouri National Guard's 1221st Transportation Company took to the firing ranges during the unit's most recent monthly drill.

The Dexter-based company, along with its detachments in Portageville and Sikeston, traveled to Fort Campbell, Ky. to qualify on the M-16 rifle and to fire several other weapons for familiarization.

The M-16--a lightweight, magazine-fed rifle--is the most produced firearm of its caliber and has been around in one version or another since the Vietnam War.

The M-16 range proved challenging for many Soldiers, however, said Spc. Mark Becking.

"This is a very difficult course. It's the hardest I've ever fired on," said Becking. "I did qualify my first time but in the past I've qualified expert and I wasn't able to do that this time. I had a good time out there but it was tough."

Despite the challenges of the course, 1st Lt. Venita Shackelford, commander of the company, said that she was pleased with the Soldiers' performance.

"We had a great rapport with the Fort Campbell range staff, there were zero incidents of safety violations or injuries the day of firing, we fired all the weapons systems to standard," said Shackelford. "I'm very proud of this unit and they continue to shine."

Members of the company also had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with several other weapon systems, including the M-2 machine gun, the M-203 grenade launcher and the M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon, or SAW.

The M-2, also known as a .50-caliber machine gun or "Ma Deuce," is a heavy machine gun used primarily as a vehicle weapon and for aircraft armament. It is effective against infantry, unarmored or lightly-armored vehicles and boats, light fortifications and low-flying aircraft.

The M-203 is a single-shot 40 mm grenade launcher and is effective up to approximately 350 yards. It has also been adapted as a delivery system for less-than-lethal munitions, including tear gas rounds, smoke and non-lethal projectiles.

The M-249 is a light machine gun that is widely used by all branches of the United States armed forces and has seen action in every major conflict involving the U.S. since the 1989 invasion of Panama. The gun provides the heavy volume of fire of a machine gun with accuracy and portability similar to a rifle.

Shackelford attributes the company's successful performance at the range to the unit's preparation and the professionalism of all those involved in the planning process.

"We have had a successful joint effort with both the 835th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion and the 1035th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion to fire those weapon systems," said Shackelford. "Without the communication and dedication of all the hard working officers and noncommissioned officers, it would have been very difficult to achieve."

For more information about the Missouri National Guard, please call 1-888-GoGuard or visit www.moguard.com.