Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Trained Soldier with a Tank Regiment

After phase one training you move on to your specialist training which is called phase two. For me my phase two was very quick as I got fast tracked to my regiment to be a gunner.

I did however spend two weeks at ATR Bovvington learning how to drive a car and I did some advanced signals before I got called to my regiment.

I had been sent to my regiment in October 2000 in Fallingbostel Germany to learn to be a Challenger 2 Gunner - When I got there everyone was in Kosovo and there was only a rear party left behind. I started my training a few days after arriving. I learned how to be a gunner and how to operate the tank itself, I prefered being a gunner and spent a lot of my time in the simulator which is a better version of a playstation. The simulator runs different battle programs and different types of failures that you may come across from time to time. These range from your coax machine gun jamming to misfired rounds etc. I found it all very interesting but couldn’t wait to get on the ranges and experience the fire power for myself. Unluckily I would have to wait a few months for this to happen.

After completion of my training I didn’t have much to do - With the regiment being in Kosovo all I had were guard duties which were very boring and the odd PT lesson. An officer asked me if I wanted to go skiing and try out for the regimental ski team, I said I was an avid skier so snapped up the offer. What I didn’t realise was that he was talking about cross-country skiing and that is how I got roped into that! I had been apart from my regiment for seven months and was in the ski team so no one in my regiment knew who I was - They came back from Kosovo when I went skiing. I thought it was quite funny.

Eventually things changed when I got back from the skiing course and settled into regiment life more with the lads and that. This is when I got my opportunity to fire my tank on the ranges. It was also my first time inside a tank. So as you can imagine I was nervous and my commander was an absolute stress freak which didn’t help me. By the time we actually got to the ranges I was a nervous wreck because the commander had been shouting at me etc etc all the way there. So on my first range period I missed almost every shot because I was too scared to fire at a target. I had been kicked and punched in the back of the head and overall had one of the worst scores ever seen on a range period with a tank.

After this range period and my stressy commander I was ready to give up on my dream of being a soldier and no longer wanted to serve in the army. As it turned out the Commander got sacked and I ended up with a newly promoted sergeant sitting behind me. What a difference this man made - He was calm and talked to me on the ranges and told me not to worry. So when I went out on the ranges again I transformed from pathetic to pretty good. Then soon after, with this sergeant as guidance I became one of the best gunners to have graced a challenger 2 in my regiment. I scored a 6 distinction (highest score possible) and also a 100% hit rate every time I went to the ranges.

Join the hot Tank debate: Challenger vs Abrams

I settled into regimental life really well after this incident and started feeling good about myself. I also started getting to know everyone in my squadron then everyone else. It’s amazing how quickly you remember the names of 400 people. I then also met the Queen a few times and managed a few parades for her too, which was a laugh and something of an achievement.

Miky Kelly was a sufferer of PTSD but sadly died in May 2010.

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