MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- As the day starts on a cold morning here, ground-shaking booms are heard with the rising of the sun.
Corporal Ryan P. Pedroza, assistant firing chief, Battery F, 10th Marine Regiment, is one of the Marines responsible for making his troops fire the massive 155mm Howitzer cannon.
Running this huge weapon seems like a daunting task, but Pedroza and his fellow Marines appear to do it with timeliness and ease.
The purpose of the artillery in the regiment is to provide accurate, timely, massed cannon fires and fire support for infantry units.
As an assistant chief on one of the guns, the Carson City, Nev. native is responsible for watching over the Marines on his team.
“I make sure they do their job and that they are doing it right,” the 22 year-old said. “I make sure they have all the right gear and their ear plugs in. I can also help out in any position that is needed.”
Pedroza started out in the ammo pit, fusing rounds and breaking powder.
“Basically, it’s the hardest job,” he explained. “It’s where you start learning everything. From there, you move on to the next position.”
This next position for Pedroza was the number one man, also known as the plugger. The number one man is responsible for putting the gunpowder in after the ammo team loads the round into the tube. He then closes the breach, puts the primer inside the hole, pulls the lanyard and shoots the gun.
“After that, they gave me a test to see if I could move on to gunner or assistant gunner,” he said.
Pedroza had to adjust to being an artilleryman again after spending seven months in Iraq in a provisional infantry battalion doing convoy operations.
Performing these duties allowed the young Marine to travel across large parts of the foreign country.
“We would do two-to three-hour-long convoys to Ramadi or 13-to 14-hour-long convoys to the Jordanian border,” he stated.
Pedroza had to train extensively for these new types of duties. To prepare, he went on patrols, hikes, and practiced room clearing techniques, along with training in a simulated urban environment.
After spending seven months deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Pedroza is glad to return to his job as an artilleryman.
“At first, it was cool to change and to do a different job, but it is always nice to be able to come back and do your original job,” Pedroza said.