KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan - Indiana National Guardsmen from 2nd Platoon, 1613th Engineer Support Company are nearing completion of construction on Combat Outpost Penich, in Kunar province, Afghanistan, July 3.

The LaPorte, Ind., based National Guard unit replaced the 65th Eng. Co., from Fort Hood, Texas, who began construction in January.

"Were going through and putting the finishing touches on everything," said 2nd Lt. Darric Appel, a Hebron, Ind., native. "We hope to have everything finished up in about a week or so."

After completing the outpost's tactical operations center, winterizing the living quarters, and repairing several roofs that suffered heavy wind damage, all that remains for the unit is completion of COP Penich's latrines and shower facilities. Soldiers have been using outhouses and bottled water for personal hygiene since construction began six months ago.

"We pretty much look like a bunch of ants just running around everywhere," said Army Sgt. 1st Class Robin Siems, platoon sergeant for 2nd Plt., while speaking of his unit's rapid pace of construction.

The engineers' hard work has not gone unnoticed by the outpost's residents, Company A, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division.

"Once they started seeing the quality of our work, and how fast we were doing it, they were like, 'are you sure you can't stay,'" said Appel, grinning.

A Co. commander, Capt. Michael Harrison agrees, "they are very meticulous, very detail oriented," he said. "We're very impressed with the engineers overall."

In addition to normal base construction, the Indiana Guardsmen have taken on several projects, aimed at raising the COP's quality of life, such as constructing a deck and picnic tables around the dining facility.

"I just hope that somehow we made their lives better, or at least their living conditions better," said Appel. "We're out here, and were staying until the job's done."

When finished at COP Penich, the Guardsmen will provide construction support to another military instillation in eastern Afghanistan.

The six month old outpost is one of many being constructed throughout Afghanistan as additional troops pour into the country, providing increased security, training and humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people.

(Story by U.S. Army Sgt. Matthew C. Moeller, 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

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