MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
When a warrior returns from battle overseas, people go out of their way to ensure that he or she is respected, not only for what they have done but also for what they stand for. It is an act of disrespect to forget such men and women. Such may also be said for the historic weapons those patriots fought with.
Marines under the direction of retired Col. Terry Cahill and Jack Tagmyer, manager of the Auto Hobby Body Shop aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, recovered an old howitzer from the depths of the SR-10 range woods near Stone Bay, March 16.
“I saw the howitzer out here two years ago,” said Cahill. “No one knew who it belonged to. I eventually consulted Jack and got this project started.”
The howitzer in question is more specifically the Soviet 122-mm howitzer D-30; introduced into the Soviet Union militia in 1960 with a three-leg stabilizing system allowing for a 360-degree field of fire.
Brought back to Camp Lejeune as a souvenir from the beginning of the Iraqi War, it is thought that the care and responsibility of the howitzer passed from command to command until it was discreetly disposed of in the SR-10 range, eventually being discovered by Cahill.
Assistance on how to remove and refurbish the cannon was then sought by Tagmyer who had previous experience in “recovery operations.”
“He calls me an expert because we pulled a flame tank out of the woods a couple years back,” said Tagmyer with a chuckle. “I said ‘let’s just hook it up and drag it out’, but they said ‘you can’t do that, it weighs 32 tons.’ So we took some armor plate from a ship and made a sled and just hauled it right out.”
So Cahill and Tagmyer with help from a team of Marines with Company C, 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division and 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd MarDiv, aided by an M88A2 Hercules recovery vehicle and a Logistics Vehicle System MK48/MK16, removed and transported the howitzer to the AHBS.
“I didn’t like the idea of an artillery piece sitting out here and rusting,” said Cahill. “We are going to restore it and donate it to (a local military organization).”
As the howitzer now rests in the ABHS, repairs began March 17 starting with the disassembly into each individual section. While anyone is invited to take part in the restoration efforts, Tagmyer is planning on targeting the wounded warriors to help.
“This war has been going on for 10 years and nothing has been done in the way of a memorial,” said Tagmyer. “This will be for them, the new generation of warfighters. We won’t let this war be a forgotten war.”
Tagmyer also plans to recruit the help of 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division to assist with the parts and operations of the howitzer.
With the howitzer restoration already underway, service members and civilians are welcomed to participate in bringing it back to inspection quality, after which it will be donated free of charge as an Iraqi War memorial.
From what started as a rusting artifact abandoned to the wilderness, the howitzer will become a restored piece of history, possible through the efforts of those wishing to help keep the memory of the new generation of men and women who serve overseas alive.