Fire the Artillery
By Armando Herrera

NOTE: The powder charges for heavy artillery rounds are shipped in cylinders. The power charge for each round comes with a full set of powder bags. Unless the maximum charge is used for firing a round, there always will be left-over bags of power which must be discarded. Because of the danger of the excess powder remaining in the firing area, it is necessary to remove the excess powder to an area away from the guns and burned in the open. This story arises out of the removal of the powder to a secure area for burning, and is told in a message from former SFC.. Armando Herrera, former chief of firing battery (chief of smoke), to former Sgt. Michael White.


Do you remember your burning powder in Charlie 2, and spelling FTA in very large letters with the powder bags (before you burned them)? There was an infantry grade officer coming in a helicopter for an inspection tour. He saw your display on the ground and landed near you. When he landed, I picked up my field glasses to see who he was, and I saw him giving you a dressing down, with his finger shaking right in your face. All of a sudden he turned around and got back in the helicopter and took off. You lit up the powder after he left. He flew over my CP and landed in the infantry HQ area. I met with him later on. He asked if I was the chief of firing battery in Bravo. I said yes. He said to take care of Sgt. White, because he can think fast on his feet. He said that Sgt. White said that "FTA might mean to you what you told me, but to me it means 'Fire the artillery'." He got a good laugh out of that.