View Full Version : Success: CWC 726 test fires 400th M198 recoil unit

06-26-04, 05:18 AM
Success: CWC 726 test fires 400th M198 recoil unit
Submitted by: MCLB Barstow
Story Identification #: 200462418436
Story by Lance Cpl. Ashley Warden

MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE BARSTOW, Calif.(June 24, 2004) -- Success. To some it means attaining considerable wealth, becoming famous or achieving a certain outcome. For a number of civilian workers in Maintenance Center Barstow's Cost Work Center 726, hydraulics shop, it means the firing of the 400th M198 155mm Howitzer recoil built here.

The project began in 1992 when CWC 726 received a M198 155mm Howitzer recoil, the weapon's shock absorber, and continues even after firing the 400th recoil May 11 at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif.

Back then; the team didn't know anything about the recoils, much less how to make one, said Tom Gutierrez, supervisor for the CWC 726 hydraulics shop.

"I volunteered to do (the project) because of the challenge," said Joe Pacheco, M198 155mm Howitzer recoil project team leader. "It was something we didn't have on this base before."

"Without knowing anything (Joe Anguiano and Joe Pacheco) were sent to Letterkenny Army Depot, Pa.," said Pacheco.

"We didn't have any tools at that time," said Pacheco. While at the Army post, both Anguiano and Pacheco, the first two assigned to the project, drew pictures of the tools used at the school and brought them back when they returned. After making tools from the drawings, the team began on its first recoil.

"If we wanted special tools, we had to make them," said Anguiano, pneudraulic systems mechanic. "The tools we made kept breaking all the time."

In the beginning, the project was on low priority.

The project wasn't financed, so if tools were needed, the team had to make them.

When the Howitzers first came on base, CWC 726 only received five or six of the weapons to tear apart and experiment with. Personnel were sent to school to learn more about the weapons.

This resulted in contracts of up to 125 Howitzers the team currently works on.

Each week more guns are added to the workload because of the need to support the ongoing operations in Iraq.

"To start with nothing but hand drawn pictures and go to the 400th recoil, shows a lot of success," said Gutierrez.

It wasn't until 1995 that the team got its first contract. Finally, the project was funded.

"It was a lot of work, trial and error to get where we are today," said Wyndall Grange, the head of the M198 155mm recoil project.

"We had a whole lot of failures in between (the first and 400th)," said Grange.

With the Marine Corps introducing the Lean Thinking concept, CWC 726 cleaned up shop. The idea of the program is to put safety first and stresses the importance of organization, cleanliness and efficiency.

Under the directive, the shop was cleaned up and the workers took extra care in what they were doing with the recoil, said Gutierrez.

"It proved that working together and solving problems internally has paid off," he said. In the past 64 firings, there has only been one failure.

The project does not only require the work of those assigned to it, but the work of others in the shop as well as different Cost Work Centers.

"In order for these guys to be successful, everyone else must pick up the workload," said Gutierrez. Work is of plenty in the hydraulics shop, considering it supports all the major lines on base. The recoil is built in the hydraulics shop, and then is completed with the help of the machine shop, turret shop and optics.

"Without their support, we wouldn't be able to build these things," said Gutierrez.

Of all the bases in the Marine Corps, MCLB Barstow contains the only shop that builds recoils for the M198 155mm Howitzer.

"It seems like no one else wants to touch the weapons but us," said Pacheco.

Once the process is complete, the M198 155mm Howitzers, with the recoils built here, are taken down to Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif. for a live test fire.

The test firing allows the team to make sure the recoils are functioning properly, that they don't slam back into place after firing and look for leaks.

Once the weapons reach Twentynine Palms, they are transported to the test grounds.

"That is what they do in actual combat," said Pacheco.

"We want to make sure it won't break under the punishment it is going to take." The live firings also give the weapon the full concussion of the rounds fired.

The shoot starts at sun up. The members of the team sit out in the desert until cleared to fire, said Tony Duarte, the team's safety officer.

Since February, the team has been conducting test firings every 30 days with at least 12 Howitzers fired per test date. Marines from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, San Diego, Calif. are also involved in the firing procedures.

"We are very proud we have built 400 of these recoils to support our troops and our customers," said Anthony Sanchez, pneudraulic systems mechanic. "This is a big achievement, it takes a long time to get to where we are."

Through the joint effort of different shops at Maintenance Center Barstow, the M198 155mm Howitzer recoil project has been a success. From the first recoil in 1992 to the 400th this year, the team has overcome obstacles to come out ahead.

Even now, the team continues to build and test fire weapons, which are destined to support our troops in Iraq.


Tony Duarte, the M198 155mm Howitzer recoil project team safety officer and pneudraulic system mechanic, live fires the M198 155mm Howitzer as he test the recoils built at Maintenance Center Barstow’s Cost Work Center 726. The test firings was the culmination of over ten years work on the project, producing and testing 400 recoils made and repaired here. Photo by: Tom Gutierrez