BAGHDAD - The oppressive desert heat bore down on Soldiers hitting nails into smoldering plywood, persistent flies swarmed around their heads; cold water was in the far off distance, so they drank the hot water nearby.

With almost 12 month's boots-on-ground, Soldiers from Company B, 46th Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy), 225th Engineer Brigade have completed hundreds of projects throughout Multi-National Division-Baghdad, including 15 B-Huts they are currently working on at Combat Outpost Carver in the southeastern outskirts of Baghdad, May 18.

In the miserable working conditions, the last thing one would expect to hear is laughter or see easy smiles as friends, more than coworkers, endure the grueling heat of their second summer far from home, together.

For one Soldier, the team is the reason why.

Spc. Jason Rhodes, of San Bernardino, Calif., says working with his team makes the difficult working conditions tolerable.

"This is definitely a very good bonding experience!" Rhodes laughed. "You quickly learn everyone's likes and dislikes. You can't help but become close."

As Rhodes spoke, friends passed by laughing; calling out jokes and calling out nicknames to tease the 25 year old Soldier.

"With so many personalities, you have to adjust at first, but you learn boundaries," he said.

The engineers have worked exhausting hours building the wood units that will provide housing for Soldiers moving out of Baghdad as the June 30 timeline nears. Each day provides the opportunity to construct another B-Hut that will bring comfort to the Soldiers moving in.

"We're not infantry Soldiers," Rhodes said, "but we're a necessary piece. Without us, Soldiers would be in living in tents in 100 plus degree heat. We are providing a comfortable living area."

Each B-Hut is built by a team headed by a junior enlisted Soldier in an effort to give experience and empower the younger Soldiers; this team must work in conjunction with the platoon as a whole.

On a broader scale, the 'team' mindset is ever present as the engineers work to give fellow Soldiers better housing accommodations.

"I get satisfaction out of our mission. Everyday we have infantry Soldiers check the B-Huts out and ask, 'when will they be ready'' or say, 'I can't wait to move in,'" Rhodes said. "It definitely helps boost their morale.

Staff Sgt. Ryan Peltier, of Brusly, La., the noncommissioned officer in charge of the construction project, said the camaraderie of the squad is second to none.

"We have probably the closest knit group of guys I've ever seen or heard of," Peltier said.

The team atmosphere is undeniable at the construction site; the old adage of "Together, everyone achieves more" is evident in the manner in which the Soldiers work. Rank holds no privilege as each Soldier drops what they are doing and runs to help hold a wall steady as it is hammered in place.

Without even realizing it, Rhodes swats at yet another pesky fly as he calls out to his friend and gets back to work.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16