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No jokes or funny pictures today. As most of you know I’m a Marine Reservist and have, up until very recently, been drilling one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer since right after 9/11. From 2009 through most of 2011, I was the Commanding Officer of the unit that was attacked in Chattanooga last week. Technically named Mike Battery, the unit is often referred to as Mike Battalion – a direct reflection of its ability to take on an undefeatable presence in its higher headquarters through dominance, might, effectiveness, strength and its ability to outshine other units. It’s true, many reserve units are seen as less capable in the eyes of their active duty sister units.

Not Mike.

Never Mike.

Mike Battery has been around for a long time and recently re-proved their worth and mettle by firing in support of the Battle of Fallujah. With six howitzers each capable of firing four, 100-pound high explosive rounds per minute at a maximum range of almost 19 miles away, an artillery battery can become everyone’s best friend when the going gets tough in battle. Below is a famous picture of Gun 4 Mike Battery firing in that battle. Ask anyone who fought in the Battle of Fallujah if they know Mike Battery.

They do.

Battle of Falujah

Mike Battery is a family and we are all feeling the pain of last Thursday’s repugnant attack on her headquarters. The full details may never be fully revealed and maybe they never should be, but I’ll tell you one thing I bet in my heart to be true – they were all running at the F-er, not away from him.

More Marines were lost last Thursday than have been lost all year in Afghanistan, all a part of my family. It was a sad day and there is a lot of healing left to do. Below is a picture that brings me a great deal of joy – it was taken on the last day of my command as we finished up a two week live fire training exercise in the summer heat of Fort Bliss, Texas.

Fort Bliss Tx

We were detached from our parent battalion 3rd Battalion 14th Marines and attached to 2nd Battalion 14th Marines which is an artillery battalion located throughout Texas and Oklahoma. All 180 of the Mike Battery members joked that it was because our parent battalion could not stomach another two week stint of our battery running circles around the other three batteries, and wanted to ditch us off on someone else to endure our unmitigated bravado … but the fact was that it was probably much less of a joke and much more truth. Want to get a taste of Mike? This 1 minute video on You Tube is work appropriate. If you click on others published on the same channel by “USMC Arty” I can assure you they are not work appropriate and are in fact profane and massively inappropriate for the faint of heart.

While the unit may be known officially as Mike Battery and unofficially as Mike Battalion, our call sign on the radio was Pale Horse. Watch any war movie and you’ll know that the Commanding Officer is always referred to as “The Six”… my call sign was Pale Horse Six. I believe that being Knighted is subordinate to being bestowed the Pale Horse Six call sign. Before my first field operation, my First Sergeant (who had uncharacteristically spent his entire career up to that point at Mike) said, “Sir, you gotta know the story about the call sign.” He went on to tell me that after the artillery pieces had stopped firing during a mission in Iraq, a Marine on the gun line yelled something along the lines of, “They better get their heads down ‘cause Hell is coming.” From then on, the unit adopted a version of Revelation 6:8 and never looked back.

“And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him”

Rest in Peace my Pale Horse brothers:

Lance Corporal Skip Wells
Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith
Sergeant Carson A. Holmquist
Staff Sergeant David Wyatt
Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Sullivan
Pale Horse brothers

I’ll try to publish something on the market later this week – I’m sure everyone understands my desire to talk about Mike, the Sailor and the Marines that had their lives cut short last week. My thoughts remain with their immediate families and other brothers at Mike still healing at this very moment. Things may end up being a little different at Mike, but I know not a whole lot will change either.

Semper Fi Mike Battalion & Pale Horse Marines

Armstrong Sends

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