Story by Sgt. Christopher Johnston
CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait – Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, competed for the bragging rights of Top Gun at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, at the nearby Udairi Range Complex from Sept. 3 through Sept. 13.
Sixteen M109A6 Paladin crews from Alpha and Bravo Batteries contended for the highest cumulative score in events including physical fitness, artillery skills proficiency and section live-fire exercises.
The Top Gun competition began with cannon crews shooting 40 rounds from each of their M4 carbine rifles, followed by an Army Physical Fitness Test.
“The competition isn’t just who can shoot the best,” said Pfc. Anthony M. Ellingsworth, a cannon crew member assigned to Alpha Battery, 1-10 FA. “It’s an overall competition of us as Soldiers and how we perform in our jobs.”
Crews conducted multiple hands on events including the disassembly and assembly of their .50-caliber machine gun, Mk 19 automatic grenade launcher, and the breech of the 155 mm Howitzer cannon.
“Breaking down the breech was my favorite part,” said Pfc. Ronnie F. Payton, a cannon crew member assigned to Alpha Battery, 1-10 FA. “Me and my driver excel at it, we always strive to be the best.”
The finale of the competition was the Paladin live-fire exercises at the Udairi range.
Coming out on top with a combined score of 1,035 points out of 1,100 was the crew consisting of Staff Sgt. Melvin A. Moss, Sgt. Eden H. Calhoun, Spc. Joshua E. Kloss, Spc. Kenneth L. Russell, Pfc. Ronnie F. Payton, and Pfc. Austin L. Pickett of Alpha Battery.
“Every crew did an exceptional job,” said Lt. Col. James E. Willard, 1-10 FA commander. “Only a small amount of points separated first place from last.”
Willard presented the ceremonial red muzzle cover, with Top Gun and the 1-10 FA crest painted on it, to Moss and his crew.
“It stands out and lets everyone know who is the best,” said Payton. “We trained hard for six months, we came out and executed.”
Moss and his crew will retain the honors of Top Gun for the next six months.
The Paladin crews of A and B Batteries will continue to train during their deployment in Kuwait. Crew members said they will constantly strive to be the best in order to remain ready for any mission the Army presents them, as well as preparing for the next Top Gun competition.