Fort Sill female soldier makes launcher chief history

Friday, May 01, 2015

Cpl. Erica Gunter, A Battery, 2nd Battalion, 4th Field Artillery, or 2-4th FA, recently made history when she was promoted to corporal and assigned as a Multiple Launch Rocket System, or MLRS, launcher chief, a position usually held by a staff sergeant.

Her new position means that she is the first woman, 13M, to enter the noncommissioned officer corps and be assigned as a launcher chief.

While other female 13Ms have attained such status, they were all reclassified into the MOS, whereas Gunter began her career as a 13M two years ago during the second 13M Advanced Individual Training class open to women.

"It all came as a surprise to me," Gunter said.

Adding, "It is something I’ve wanted since even before basic training, since the recruiter offered the MOS and said I would be one of the first females to attend the training. But, I didn’t think it was going to happen now."

On the morning she was promoted, Gunter had graduated from the Warrior Leader Course with honors and was called back to her unit for a meeting with her battery commander and first sergeant.

There she was told of the unit’s plans for her, but also of the requirements, including leading a launcher crew in certifications the following week.

"Corporal Gunter was selected for this job because of her ability to meet challenges head on and produce superb results in all of her endeavors," said 1st Sgt. Calvin McDuffey, her battery’s first sergeant.

He added, "She has been relentless in her desire to achieve excellence, reluctant to accept failure and possesses a demeanor conducive to leading soldiers in this profession."

Speaking with Gunter for only a few minutes, one gets the same impression McDuffey has.

She sounds and acts like a seasoned professional, focusing on the crew’s mission, its safety and her soldiers’ well-being.

"I was pretty excited," she said.

She added, "But I was also pretty nervous because nobody in my new crew had ever worked together before and I want to be the quality leader these soldiers deserve from ‘Day One.’

"You usually work with a crew for at least a few weeks before certifications, but I knew these were good soldiers who have worked hard, too. I have worked toward this my entire career the same as them, and we are as good as any other crew."

The studying and a focused career paid off for Gunter and her new crew as they certified on all required tasks.

Though her start as a launcher chief was somewhat of a baptism by fire, the success and skills of her crew showed the determination of her soldiers and their leader’s focus on mentorship.

"I have always been determined and goal oriented," Gunter said. "I volunteered for every learning opportunity and always sought out ways to be a better soldier.

"But, I could never have succeeded were it not for my crew, and, of course, the great mentors who have always pushed me to improve myself. My leaders were always helpful in guiding me in my career, and this unit has always focused on having an open and approachable culture that will answer whatever questions you have."

Even with her promotion and earned certifications, this is not the time for Gunter or her crew to relax.

The "Deep Attack" Battalion has many training exercises planned, and Gunter has to prepare for her Soldier of the Quarter board and a promotion board in the coming weeks.

But most importantly, this crew must maintain one of the highest standards of readiness and training in the Army considering that this unit is the Army’s only Training Status 1 MLRS battalion.

"Corporal Gunter has a great career ahead of her," McDuffey said.

"She is a solid example of what the total Army soldier should be."