561st Engineer Company supports U.S. Border Patrol mission
June 25, 2012
NOGALES, Ariz.-- The Soldiers of 1st Platoon, 561st Engineer Company, 84th Engineer Battalion, 130th Engineer Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, returned after completing the final phase of a 3,168-foot all-weather road construction project June 14.
The project represents the large-scale cooperation between Joint Task Force-North, the United States Forestry Service, and the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.
The unit maneuvered the terrain over the course of the 39-day mission with great motivation and enthusiasm. The scope of the project included emplacement of more than 70 pieces of articulating matting in two Low Water Crossings, cutting ditches along the entire length of road, and emplacing rip-rap in the ditches for drainage control.
The mission provided an excellent opportunity for the Soldiers of 1st Platoon to achieve proficiency on a multitude of construction equipment. With every passing week, operators gained confidence and overall production increased.
"The project allowed me to operate pretty much every piece of construction equipment on site," said Pfc. Jerren Data, equipment operator in 1st Platoon, 561st Eng. Co.
The hilly terrain proved to be a steep challenge throughout the project. The 25-ton articulating dump trucks, used to haul material, had to traverse more than five miles of constant hills to reach the construction site. Even experienced operators acknowledged the challenge that the haul route posed.
"It took a few trips before I really felt comfortable operating the dump trucks," said Spc. Robert Deatherage, equipment operator in 1st Platoon, 561st Eng. Co. "Once I got the hang of it, my haul decreased with each pass."
Deatherage used his knowledge and experience to train fellow Soldiers on proper dump truck operation.
The project represents the fifth cooperation between the 561st Eng. Co. and JTF-North in support of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol's counterdrug and transnational threat operations to reduce the availability of illegal drugs in the U.S.
As a construction-effects battalion, the 84th Eng. Bn. provided a wide range of capabilities, from undertaking various construction projects, to supporting humanitarian assistance, to combat operations overseas.
First Platoon will continue heavy construction, both on and off island, in the future. The 561st Eng. Co. will be traveling to the Big Island before the end of the fiscal year to complete projects in the Pohakuloa Training Area.