Ohio National Guard News

Celebrating Women's History Month

Leading with a bang:
Ohio native, former Guard member, shines as artillery officer

Story and photos by Spc. Gabrielle Weaver, 24th Press Camp Headquarters

An M109 Paladin artillery system gun crew with Battery B, 4th Battalion, 1st Field Artillery Regiment, Division Artillery at Fort Bliss, Texas fires into the mountains of Oro Grande Range Complex, New Mexico, Feb. 14, 2018.

First Lt. Elena Ruiz-Krause (left), a platoon leader with Battery B, 4th Battalion, 1st Field Artillery Regiment, Division Artillery at Fort Bliss, Texas, and Capt. Alan Bauerly, Battery B commander, watch their Soldiers prepare an M109 Paladin artillery system for firing.

First Lt. Elena Ruiz-Krause (left), and Staff Sgt. Howard C. Ward, a gun line leader with Battery B, share a laugh while waiting for instructions to fire an M109 Paladin artillery system.

FORT BLISS, Texas (03/20/18) — Across the rugged New Mexico terrain, artillery weapons stood out against the landscape. Soldiers stood by two M109 Paladins as they waited for the order to fire.

Supervising nearby in full body armor was 1st Lt. Elena Ruiz-Krause, a platoon leader with Battery B, 4th Battalion, 1st Field Artillery Regiment, Division Artillery, 1st Armored Division. Ruiz-Krause was one of several officers and noncommissioned officers leading young artillery Soldiers in a combined live-fire exercise.

Before joining the active Army, Ruiz-Krause, 24, took advantage of the resources the military provided to mold her to be the person she is today.

It was fall of 2011. Ruiz-Krause, a native of Toledo, Ohio, was attending Miami University in Oxford, Ohio for a degree in psychology. Like many students, Ruiz-Krause faced the reality of having to pay out-of-pocket for her degree.

With help from her friends, Ruiz-Krause learned of a way to pay for her schooling without facing any debt: her university’s Army ROTC program, which would allow her to continue pursuit of her bachelor’s degree while receiving training to earn a commission as a U.S. Army officer.

As a member of the Simultaneous Membership Program, or SMP, Ruiz-Krause participated in her school’s ROTC program while also becoming a member of the Ohio Army National Guard, earning pay and benefits while attending monthly unit training assemblies, or “drills,” and gaining valuable leadership experience with a National Guard unit. Ruiz-Krause was eligible for certain educational benefits, including the Ohio National Guard Scholarship Program, which pays for 100 percent of students’ tuition at state-assisted institutions and up to the average state tuition and private schools.

“The Ohio National Guard paid for 100 percent of my college,” she said. “I was able to graduate debt free.”

Ruiz-Krause said she has been afforded many opportunities through the Army that she would have not been able to experience otherwise. While in ROTC, Ruiz-Krause traveled to places far from her home in Ohio. She spent a summer in Romania in 2014 by participating in Cultural Understanding & Language Proficiency (CULP), an ROTC program.

“I worked with the cadets in the Romanian army,” she said. “I got to go through Transylvania and experience a different culture.”

Ruiz-Krause graduated Miami University in 2015 and left the Ohio National Guard. Upon her request, she commissioned into active-duty service as a second lieutenant, branched as a field artillery officer. For her first duty station, Ruiz-Krause was assigned to Fort Bliss.

As a platoon leader, Ruiz-Krause is responsible for 32 Soldiers within her platoon.

Spc. Kristops Shvans, one of the Soldiers in Ruiz-Krause’s platoon, said she is impressed with Ruiz-Krause’s ability as his platoon leader in the two months he has been in the unit.

“She is highly proactive and very proficient in her work,” Shvans said. “Every time I come to her with a question, she has always had a resolution.”

Staff Sgt. Howard C. Ward, a gun line leader, or “smoke,” with Battery, 4-1st Field Artillery, has witnessed how she interacts with those she leads.

“With her Soldiers, she is very stern, but fair,” Ward said. “She keeps her professional demeanor but is very approachable with all situations.”

Ruiz-Krause’s responsibilities broaden when she goes to the field, and her flexibility made her an important asset to the mission.

“I have a little bit more of a fun job while (in) the field,” she said. “It’s my job, along with my smoke, to decide where to place the Paladins.”

The M109 Paladin is a large artillery system that can fire at enemies from distances of roughly 20 miles, Ruiz-Krause said.

“It does a lot of damage,” she said. “Artillery can do a little bit of everything.”

To place the Paladins, Ruiz-Krause and Ward survey the training area where her Soldiers will conduct the live fire. She has to take into consideration how far apart each system has to be for firing purposes and the amount of coverage needed in order to keep the systems from being seen.

“Typically, all we want visible is the tube, so it’s my job to go out with my smoke and determine where we want it,” she said.

Overall, Ruiz-Krause attributes the experiences she has had from college to present to her decision to join the Army.

“It has been a great experience,” she said. “I have gotten to do a lot of cool things that I would not have been able to do in the civilian world.”

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