'Bravo' effort -- Engineers wrap up Iraq deployment
August 14, 2009
- Bravo Beast prepares to return
BAGHDAD - The "Bravo Beasts" of B Company, 46th Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy), 225th Engineer Brigade are wrapping up their 15-month deployment in Iraq. They are preparing to return home to Fort Rucker in early September. During their tour the engineers conducted numerous reconstruction projects, security missions and joint construction projects with Iraqi Army Engineers.
"We have performed as a division asset and touched every corner of this growing city," said Capt. Christopher Beal, B Co. commander, 46th ECB (H), a native of Sealy, Texas. "The bonds and relationships that we have built here will never be lost." As soon as their boots touched foreign sand in June 2008, the Soldiers were on the move to several different projects throughout Baghdad.
Their first mission was to construct a battalion supply/logistical operations building on the Victory Base Complex. At the same time, Earthmoving Platoon was busy pounding the hot pavement as a security team operating with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division as members of Task Force Gold. "Task Force Gold (conducted) mounted and dismounted security operations for a Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC) Team," said Capt. Jeremy Atkinson, former Earthmoving platoon leader and a native of New Orleans, La. "After every mission the QA/QC Soldiers (offered) thanks and praise for the job well done by the 46th Soldiers."
After eight months of providing security for teams ensuring Iraqi contractors' construction projects were up to standards and escorting VIPs throughout the city, Earthmoving Platoon Soldiers went back to work as heavy equipment operators and construction engineers. "It's nice to be back on equipment," said Staff Sgt. Thomas Schwenkler, of Santa Cruz, Calif.
"Some Soldiers had not operated equipment previous to the deployment. They had to get in there and learn. They had to get their stick time." The carpenters, masonry specialists, plumbers, and electricians of B Co. were also expanding their skills while improving U.S. troops' living conditions throughout Multi-National Division-Baghdad. "We rewired buildings, put outlets in the rooms, and installed lights in the rooms and hallways," said Sgt. Carlene Davis, a B Co. electrician and a native of Manhattan, N.Y. "We also fixed their air conditioners." According to Staff Sgt. Ian Jones, a squad leader from Newport, N.Y., Soldiers at Joint Security Station Istiqlaal were moving into the engineers' newly-finished buildings "less than 24 hours after the final nail was pounded."
The same happened in southern Baghdad at Combat Outpost Carver where engineers were building ahead of the surge of Soldiers moving to the outskirts of town in accordance to the Security Agreement with Iraq. "Every project we touched and every site we visited, the other units were always appreciative and amazed at the efficiency of our Soldiers," said 1st Sgt. Gregory Williams, of Buena Vista, Ga.
During their time in theater B Co. engineers built gyms, dining facilities, aid stations, helicopter landing zones, weapons ranges, entry control points and much more to enhance living conditions and increase force protection. The Soldiers also provided security for engineer supply missions throughout Baghdad, enhanced operations for both battalion- and brigade-sized units, participated in numerous joint construction missions with Iraqi Army Engineers and held joint mechanic training workshops for Iraqi Army (IA) mechanics.
"We wanted to train the IAs to be as proficient as possible," said Sgt. 1st Class Cornelius Nalls, B Co. motor sergeant from Fayette, Ala. "We were usually scheduled seven days to complete the training, but the IA mechanics learned very quickly. We spent the last two days fellowshipping with the help of the interpreters." With about three weeks remaining in Iraq, the "Bravo Beasts" are gearing up to properly train their replacements.
"This is my second deployment to Baghdad," said Beal. "As a company commander, I couldn't have asked for a better company or a better mission."