Updated: May 23, 2018
SPC Robert West was the A-25 Assistant Gunner. His role also included Loader, Dismount and Forward Observer.
A-Gunners on the ground are critical for crew served weapons. They are not only qualified to replace or relieve the primary but also bear ammunition and have the role as spotter.
Rob and the loader, SPC Tony "Grave Digger" Jones, kept me supplied with linked 25 MM ammo for the M242 Bushmaster Chain Gun as well as 7.62 x 51 ammo for the M240C co-axially mounted machine gun. They were also tasked with reloading the TOW missile launcher.
I stayed awake during most of the 100+ hour ground war, eating Folger's coffee grounds straight from the packets that came in the MRE's.
I reluctantly let Rob into my spot so I could catch a few minutes of sleep, resting on top of ammo cans while other cans fell on me. Good thing for the CVC helmet.
Rob was more than qualified to take over, I just didn't want to miss out on the fun. I waited 7 months in the desert for combat. I earned it. But so did everyone else. A crew is a team.
My wife and daughters still tell people I drove a tank in the desert. Most people think that the driver also fires the main gun. I must admit that growing up, I thought the same thing.
The success of the crew depended on everyone; the driver, gunner, commander and loaders/dismounts/forward observers.
Thank you Rob for having my back and ensuring the success of the mission.