'Sappers' work on local trails
September 30, 2011
FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Soldiers from Company C, 1st Special Troops Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, participated in a trail maintenance project in Colorado Springs Sept. 17.
The project is part of an effort by Capt. Chris Calway, commander, Company C, 1st STB, to get his Soldiers involved in community service and help them discover different activities the region has to offer, he said.
"When I first moved into my house, I noticed a sign on my street for a nearby trailhead," said Calway. "The sign said the trail was maintained by a volunteer group, which gave me the idea to start researching volunteer groups in the area and to get my Soldiers involved in their work."
The "Sapper" Soldiers donated their time to team up with the Friends of Cheyenne Cañon
"The commander asked the company for volunteers to participate in a trail maintenance project," said Sgt. 1st Class Gabriel Minor, platoon sergeant, 4th Platoon, Company C, 1st STB. "Every Soldier who showed up on project day made the decision to give up their free time with no incentive to do so."
Minor said the project involved maintenance on a trail in Cheyenne Cañon, filling in the trail, which had become dangerous to hikers and bikers due to massive erosion.
"Basically, the purpose of our project was to fill the older condemned trail in with rocks, branches and dead trees," said Minor. "Filling the trail in will keep future hikers from using it, and will allow vegetation to regrow on the trail, allowing it to repair itself."
Minor brought his wife, Melissa Minor, and his 6-year-old son, Nathan, along to help with the project.
Even though they were surrounded by trained combat engineers, Melissa Minor and Nathan both jumped in and helped the Soldiers cut down dead trees and drag branches and logs into the old trail.
"It was really nice to be able to bring my Family along for this project," said Gabriel Minor. "Melissa loves volunteer work and being in the outdoors, so this was an opportunity for us to do some of that together."
"It was also a great opportunity to get Nathan outside and let him have some fun with his dad, which is something we hope will make him want to do more of the same in the future," said Melissa Minor.
Other Soldiers participating in the project expressed their appreciation for the scenic area in which they were working. Many said they plan to return and enjoy the trails in the future.
"I have really enjoyed being in the outdoors during this project," said Spc. Luis Gallegos, combat engineer, Company C, 1st STB. "I never knew this area existed and will definitely be bringing friends here in the future to show them the area and check out the trails."
Calway said the project really was the perfect job for his combat engineers, known as 'Sappers' throughout the Army.
"The word 'sapper' is literally translated from the French language as 'to dig,'" said Calway. "One of our jobs, according to the manual, is to maintain combat trails for the Army, so this project really tied in well with and shows who we are and the job we do when in uniform."
Calway said he is currently working on developing more volunteer projects for his Soldiers to participate in.
"This was a great opportunity for my guys to get out of their normal routines and become involved in the community they live in," he said. "Participating in projects like this is not only a way to keep them out of trouble, but a way for them to show the community that they care and are willing to give back."