By Spc. Anna-Marie Hizer, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
KIRKUK, Iraq – Soldiers with 320th Field Artillery Regiment and guests from across 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division gathered at Forward Operating Base Warrior to celebrate the history of Field Artillery and honor St. Barbara – the patron saint of the FA.
St. Barbara’s Day is an annual event held to honor those Soldiers, past and present, who embody the spirit of what it means to be an Artillery troop. Those individuals meeting the standards established by the artillery “brotherhood” are rewarded with an induction into the Order of St. Barbara, an honor only a select few receive annually.
“Why celebrate St. Barbara’s Day? The holiday is normally celebrated in December,” said Lt. Col. Marty Holland, commander, 2nd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division. “In 1990, in a tent not much different than this one in Saudi Arabia, the Red Legs of the 101st Airborne Division gathered to celebrate St. Barbara’s Day. I was fortunate enough to receive my St. Barbara’s medal from the division commander – it is an event I will never forget – why celebrate St. Barbara now? The better question is, why not.”
This year the battalion known as the “Balls of the Eagle” held their St. Barbara’s celebration in August, just before the Brigade’s expected return to Fort Campbell, Ky. Several FA Soldiers were inducted into the Honorable Order of St. Barbara, a memorable event that Holland says he hopes his Soldiers never forget.
“Today is a celebration of fire support and the fire support team,” Holland said. “It is not an individual celebration, but a unit celebration.”
Before awarding the honorees, leaders from Balls of the Eagle mixed up the traditional Artillery Punch – a brew of ingredients symbolic to those within the unit. This year’s concoction included chai (a tea popular among the residents in Iraq), an energy drink, some protein powder, an old sock and even a dose of antacid – in honor of the many bouts of indigestion suffered by some after dining on the local fare. The grog may seem noxious to some, but to the Soldiers in attendance, each charge held memories of the past year, be they solemn or humorous.
“Let’s take a few moments to laugh at ourselves,” Holland said, “and a few minutes to celebrate the traditions of the Field Artillery.”
After proving their worthiness to St. Barbara by downing the Artillery punch, inductees were congratulated by Col. Skip Larsen, commander, 18th Field Artillery Brigade.
“Providing fire support is a complex objective, made of numerous tasks, but a singular objective to support the maneuver commander,” said Larsen. “We did that task, that objective, better than any other Army.”
133rd MPAD, Tikrit, Iraq