September 8, 1996 in Idaho

National Guardsmen Have A Blast Weekend Training Focuses On Explosives

By The Spokesman-Review
 

As World War II veterans relived boot camp at a reunion Saturday, modern-day soldiers trained for war nearby.

Above the din of the reunion’s patriotic music, Claymore mines and grenades exploded at the firing range.

The Idaho National Guard was brushing up on its blowing up skills.

Two platoons spent the morning setting up, arming and exploding Claymore mines at a line of targets shaped like the silhouettes of men.

“It’s a kill zone,” Sgt. Don Cobb explained. “If you set up your ambush correctly, it’s an effective kill zone.”

After two guardsmen set up their mines - plastic explosives filled with deadly shot - they lay prone in the weeds and detonated the blasting caps from a safe distance.

With a deafening KABOOM!, the mines exploded in orange bursts and sent 2,000 BBs into and around the targets.

“Woohoo!” shouted a gleeful guardsman. “Got my elk!”

The soldiers, decked out in camouflage Kevlar vests and helmets, approached the targets to analyze the damage.

“As you can see, these guys aren’t going anywhere,” Cobb said, pointing out the multiple holes in the wood silhouettes. “That patrol right there is either dead or wounded.”

While the Idaho National Guard is most often pressed into service to help in natural disasters, the guardsmen must maintain their warfare readiness in the event they’re called up for military service, explained Sgt. Cliff Shove.

“Last time we came close was the Gulf War,” he said. “They’ve used the Guard and Reserve now a lot more than they did in the past.”

The Guardsmen train on weekends and during two weeks of each year. One of their main duties is to clear obstacles so the troops can advance.

“My favorite part is blowing stuff up,” Sgt. Curtis Stewart said.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo

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