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CAMP WILLIAMS — If you live near Point of the Mountain, you may have heard a lot of noise Friday — and there will be more tomorrow. It's a weekend of live fire activity from some big guns at Camp Williams.
The Utah Army National Guard is training for one of the most critical elements in a combat zone: artillery, the heavy-duty firepower that protects citizen soldiers overseas.
The Paladin self-propelled howitzer is one of the most powerful weapons troops can take with them into the battlefield. It can rain down destruction at a distance, hitting targets up to 15 miles away.
"I like to call them ‘AT&T' because they can reach out and touch somebody,'" a National Guard instructor told a class of troops Friday.
"We are the Western Region for artillery schools, (and we) conduct live fire exercises for soldiers in 11 states," explained Master Sgt. Gerald Robinson, branch chief of the Utah Army National Guard's 3rd Battalion.
Camp Williams officials are inviting the public to watch their live fire training sessions, free of charge.
- Date: Saturday, April 21
- Time: 8 a.m.
- Location: Camp Williams, 17800 S. Camp Williams Road, Riverton
- Details: Meet at the front gate at 8:30 a.m. You will be briefed on the training and provided with safety gear. Buses depart for the front lines at 9 a.m.
But the Guard is also showing off firepower to the public, allowing visitors right up next to the action.
"When these impact the ground, they send out sharp metal for about 50 meters in each direction," the instructor told his students. "That's how we get our damage area of about 100 meters."
In nearby Herriman, memories still persist of a live fire exercise in 2010 that triggered a real fire. It rampaged across the hills, destroying several homes. The National Guard says several new safety measures are in place, including more firefighters and stricter limits on weather conditions.
"They try to watch what they're doing. They're a little more cautious now," said Herriman resident Daniel Kelsch.
But other residents say the changes may not be enough in summertime, when it gets hot and dry.
"I think it's still a worry," said Herriman resident Marie Tedrow. "I think they need to be more prepared than what they are, because (the 2010 fire) was so devastating."
Camp Williams will offer another training exercise open to the public Saturday morning. Visitors will receive protective equipment for the demonstration. Just be at Camp Williams' main gate at 8:30 a.m. for a briefing, and bus ride to the front lines at 9 a.m.