If you live in Lebanon County, you may have heard booms echoing through the area. That was the sound of mortar fire on Saturday, coming from Fort Indiantown Gap. The Army National Guard was training.
It was the National Guard’s First Battalion of the 110th Infantry, based out of Mt. Pleasant, Westmoreland County. They’ve been through multiple deployments.
“Mortars are essential in Afghanistan,” says 1st Lt. Robert Dickey. “You’ve got extreme terrain, very high cliffs and mountains high wall compounds, you have to have a round that reaches high up into the air and comes very straight down.”
The training they get at Fort Indiantown Gap keeps them ready for defense missions, and it’s already served them well.
The unit gets training like this only a few times a year, but it stays with them.
“You definitely get used to it, but at first, it’s exhilarating, they’re louder and more explosive than you anticipate,” says Sgt. William Boerstler.
This is the only place in Pennsylvania where they can get this training. In fact, it’s a base used by other states’ National Guard units, other branches of the military and even law enforcement.
“It’s essential that they get to practice, if they don’t, its a perishable skill,” says Dickey, “And to support the infantry moving in front of them, I have to be able to trust them to do their job.”