'Vanguard' demolition men rock Fort Stewart
October 26, 2011
FORT STEWART, Ga. - The combat engineers hunkered down in their rain-soaked Advanced Combat Helmets and Improved Outer Tactical Vests and waited, their eyes focused on an area they could not see from behind the protection of the concrete-reinforced bunker where they assembled.
All was silent, except for the steady pitter-patter sound of rain drops striking the Georgia red clay.
A yell of "fire in the hole, fire in the hole, fire in the hole" pierced the silence, and a push-turn-pull motion performed on an M81 fuse igniter precipitated an earth-shattering explosion from a field on which the Soldiers had stood less than five minutes before.
Most Soldiers shy away from the sound of explosions, but not the combat engineers of Company A, 4-3 Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Third Infantry Division--these Soldiers cheered and hustled to the field to examine the aftermath of igniting a 40-pound cratering charge they had emplaced, Oct. 18, at the Engineer Qualification Area on Fort Stewart.
"It's good to come out here and do our favorite part of the job, which is demolition," said Sgt. Jacob T. Hinson, a native of Nederland, Texas. "It's awesome [and] unexplainable unless you're here."
Hinson, a team leader in Co. A., was one of many noncommissioned officers leading his Soldiers through the fourth of nine Engineer Qualification Tables. The tables represent sequential training phases in which combat engineers participate to become proficient in the breadth of their field.
EQT IV certifies Soldiers on their ability to prime C4 explosives, to complete demolition calculations, to deploy basic demolition initiating systems, and to create field-expedient charges, said 2nd Lt. Mark D. Garrison, the range's officer-in-charge, and a native of Mills River, N.C.
Garrison said the Soldiers spent the past five weeks in classrooms and participating in hip-pocket and sergeant's time training to prepare them for the table. He added that the skills Soldiers gained by participating in the three stations at the range--creating a timber-cutting charge, building a field-expedient claymore, and utilizing a cratering charge--will be incorporated in the coming months into squad and platoon level EQTs.
Private First Class Jordan A. Merchant, a native of Jacksonville, N.C., helped tie knots in the demolition cord to be placed into blocks of C4 explosives, and he initiated a timber-cutting charge using the M81 fuse igniter. After his squad's demolitions blew the log in half, the Soldier talked about how it felt to be a demolition man.
"It's great because we spent a lot of time studying and practicing what we worked on," Merchant said. "It's an amazing thing; a lot of people don't get to feel what we did today."