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Commanding the Boom

Jordan Verslues hasn’t missed a single home football game at Missouri University of Science and Technology during the past three years, and he’s on track for perfect attendance again this season.

 But Verslues is no spectator in the stands. Nor is he on the playing field. But as leader of the Army ROTC cannon crew, the senior mining engineering major from Rocheport, Mo., plays an important role in every game.

At the moment of kickoff and whenever the Miners score, Verslues signals his crew to fire the battalion’s World War II-era 75-millimeter Pack Howitzer.

This is Verslues’ fourth year on the cannon crew and his first as crew leader. In that role, the Stonehenge Battalion cadet oversees the entire process of preparing the cannon for firing. Under his charge, one cadet loads the Howitzer with a canister containing a 10-gauge or 12-gauge black powder blank while two others act as sentries to keep spectators out of harm’s way. A fourth cadet pulls the lanyard to fire the cannon upon Verslues’ signal on kickoff or touchdown.

“It’s a pretty simple operation,” Verslues says. “There are only four moving parts when you disassemble it. But it seems like everybody on the crew enjoys it, and it brings more cadets to the football games. It’s a good way to be involved.”