By Pat Caldwell
To the Enterprise
BAKER CITY – Pfc. Bailey Frasch learned firsthand the considerable advantage that proper instruction on an M-2 .50 caliber machine gun can deliver on the battlefield during a training session last month at the Oregon Army National Guard Armory in Baker City.
Frasch, assigned to Fox Company, 3rd Battalion, 116th Cavalry Regiment, Oregon Army National Guard, spent most of her day training, firing and learning the details of the M-2, all inside a classroom at the armory.
In preparation for Fox Company’s annual training stint later this spring, Guardsmen from the unit practiced on the Unstabilized Gunnery Trainer, or UGT-I, a simulator designed to train individual gunners in accordance with U.S. Army standards. At first glance the mock-up – designed to simulate a turret-mounted M-2 – is a compact arrangement complete with turret ring and sling seat, manual hand-crank and a foot-powered manual traverse platform. The apparatus is powered by a small computer with the scenarios played out on a screen where soldiers engage simulated targets.
“It is supposed to prepare Soldiers to actually go out and fire the weapon. It is really good training,” said Spc. David Iveson, who spearheaded the training.
Iveson, of Union, said the simulator furnishes not only needed familiarization on the big M-2 but also helps improve gunnery scores during qualification.
“There is a dramatic increase in performance on the range. It gets everyone familiar with the weapon without the safety concerns,” he said.
Iveson said there are other programs for the simulator geared toward different weapons systems, including the Mark-19 grenade launcher and the M240 machine gun.
For Frasch, age 19, the experience proved to be great training.
“It is pretty cool. Once you get the hang of it, it is pretty simple,” she said.
Frasch, a Parma, Idaho, resident who works for the City of Nyssa as an assistant city clerk, is still fairly new to the Guard and the 3rd Battalion. She said she was inspired to join the military by a close relative.
“When my aunt came back from her deployment to Kuwait I told myself I wanted to be just like her. When I saw her in uniform, I knew right then and there that is what I wanted to do with my life,” she said.
Frasch said she views her experience in the Guard as a way to give back to her community.
“Anything to help benefit someone is good enough for me to do,” she said.
Third Battalion consists of Oregon Army National Guard units from Woodburn, Hood River, The Dalles, Hermiston, Pendleton, La Grande, Baker City and Ontario.