2-114th STRIKE welcomes new commander

By: Maj. Dennis Biddle, 2-114th STRIKE

Lt. Col. Rodney Bowman assumed command of the 2nd Battalion, 114th Field Artillery Regiment (STRIKE) during a Feb. 21 change of command ceremony at the Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center, just south of Hattiesburg.

Bowman, of Ackerman, relieves Lt. Col. Michael Hunter as battalion commander of the

Soldiers stand in formation during the 2nd Battalion, 114th Field Artillery Regiment's Change of Command ceremony Feb. 21 at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center.

Soldiers stand in formation during the 2nd Battalion, 114th Field Artillery Regiment’s Change of Command ceremony Feb. 21 at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center.

Starkville-based unit. The 2-114th STRIKE is the Mississippi Army National Guard’s only direct support field artillery unit and falls within the 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team.

The assumption of command is an honor for Bowman. The Mississippi State has a tremendous amount of time and talent invested in the battalion. He enlisted in the unit as a Cannon crewmember in Battery B, 2-114th STRIKE in 1988. Three years later, he received his commission as a field artillery officer and would go on to recruit his two sons as current unit members as well. “It was God’s will, not

Mississippi Army National Guard Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 114th Field Artillery Regiment takes a group photo after the unit's change of command ceremony Feb. 21 at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center.

Mississippi Army National Guard Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 114th Field Artillery Regiment takes a group photo after the unit’s change of command ceremony Feb. 21 at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center.

mine, that brought me to command the Dragon Battalion.”

Col. Jeffrey Van, 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team commander, addresses the crowd.

Col. Jeffrey Van, 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team commander, addresses the crowd.

Bowman possesses valuable experience from multiple Iraq deployments and envisions a renewed focus on training for future battalion missions. “No matter what training event or real-world mission awaits, I will make sure we are properly trained and well taken care of.”

As Hunter released hold of the battalion, fellow artillery Soldiers paused to reflect on the exceptional service provided by their former commander. He enlisted in 1987 as a forward observer within Starkville’s Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 2-114th STRIKE and has been a loyal artilleryman ever since. The Bosnia and Iraq war Veteran is proud of the unit for its exceptional service and says he will miss the battalion’s family atmosphere. “Where else can a Soldier go and actually conduct live fire training from any point on the ground?” said Hunter. “We’ve had to form a tight-knit bond because we’re truly a one-of-a-kind unit.”

Lt. Col. Rodney Bowman, 2nd Battalion, 114th Field Artillery Regiment incoming commander, receives the unit's guidon from Col. Jeffrey Van, 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team commander during a change of command ceremony held at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center Feb. 21.

Lt. Col. Rodney Bowman, 2nd Battalion, 114th Field Artillery Regiment incoming commander, receives the unit’s guidon from Col. Jeffrey Van, 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team commander during a change of command ceremony held at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center Feb. 21.

The 2-114th STRIKE has a long, storied history within the U.S. Army’s FA community. It begins with the conversion of the 1st Mississippi Artillery to the 114th FA in 1927. Since then, the Dragon Battalion has served in almost every major conflict and multiple overseas theaters, including two Operation Iraqi Freedom rotations in 2005 and 2009. There, the Dragons conducted arguably the most versatile array of missions including patrolling, stability operations, counterinsurgency, convoy operations, and of course, fire support. They have also, on numerous occasions, mobilized in support of numerous state and local emergency service missions.

Lt. Col. Michael Hunter, 2nd Battalion, 114th Field Artillery Regiment outgoing commander, addresses Soldiers and family members during the unit's change of command ceremony at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center Feb. 21.

Lt. Col. Michael Hunter, 2nd Battalion, 114th Field Artillery Regiment outgoing commander, addresses Soldiers and family members during the unit’s change of command ceremony at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center Feb. 21.

The unit will add to its lineage this summer as they prepare to participate in the 155th ABCT’s Multi-echelon Integrated Brigade Training exercise at Fort Hood, Texas in June. The event focuses on company level operations and is designed to prepare the brigade for training at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif. In 2017.