Having lived in Talihina for many years, I still find myself learning new things about this remarkable town and our surrounding areas.
The subject of today’s story, of course are Talihina’s M110 howitzers and whether-or-not they point at each other.
These mammoth machines were Vietnam-Era self-propelled howitzers whose production started in 1963. M110’s used by the United States armed forces saw combat from the Vietnam War all the way into the Gulf War and Operation Desert Storm. They can still be found worldwide under the helm of countries such as Japan, Greece, and Egypt.
Most of these machines were decommissioned, turned into GBU-28 “Bunker Busters” or transferred into the hands of the National Guard by 1994. Our howitzers came to thier final resting place on 10 September, 1989. They were placed by the Kiamichi Valley War Memorial Association, dedicated to those who had given their lives in service of our great nation.
Both howitzers are breathtaking to view in person and they tower over any person large or small. They represent a time when practicality wasn’t always an option when it came to getting results. Their projectiles could be over 200lbs and their sheer size is something unmatched even today.
Below is a sliding view of each, the left picture being at the Kiamichi Valley War Memorial while the right is at the Talihina VA.
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Having been placed in 1989, many remember their commencement and may even know some of the people who helped place them.
Members of my family have always maintained that the M110s were aimed at each other deliberately as a bit of fun by the people who had to place them.
Being quite familiar with small town gossip and tall tales spun by family members I never put much stock into it. In fact, when I was a kid I took a compass out to the howitzer located on the VA premises and determined it pointed in the wrong direction to even look at the city limits. Needless to say I found myself lost very often as a child.
Thinking back on that story and now searching for new content I decided to dig up old family rumors and crack out satellite imagery to debunk this tale once and for all.
Most satellite maps have a tool that allows you to measure way-points and will give you a line indicating the distance between them. (I call this my Space Ruler for anyone interested.) By using this tool I was able to align the way-points with the center of each howitzer to get a visible line from the middle of each gun to see exactly how the barrels lined up with that line. I found myself shocked.
Below is an image of both M110s as shown from satellite imagery and measured as 2.49 miles across. The distance between them has been cut for visualization, but the image shows that these two guns are pointing almost directly at each other. While grainy it’s still easy to tell that the howitzer on the left, positioned at the Talihina VA points Southeast at the photo on the right which is the howitzer located at the Kiamichi Valley War Memorial.
So for all those who have heard it in the past or for those who never thought about it, the Talihina Howitzers are certainly aimed at each other! Another interesting historical tidbit about our town that we can celebrate as we move into this new year!