Rebuilding one gate at a time
December 14, 2012
FORWARD OPERATING BASE FENTY, Afghanistan - On the morning of Dec. 2, 2012, insurgents detonated a truck laden with explosives next to Forward Operating Base Fenty in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, and detonated it. A two-hour battle followed and the insurgents were defeated by the cooperation of coalition and Afghan forces. The insurgents were defeated, but a gate was destroyed as a result of the battle.
A machinist and a welder from E Troop, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment were chosen to build a new gate. This pair of humble professionals have set about the task of building a gate that can stand the test of time.
"I'm just a welder," said Spc. Joshua Finley, a 20-year-old allied trade specialist from Cortez, Colo. "It makes me feel really good that they choose us on a FOB with eight welders on it. They could have chosen not to come to us, but the civilians chose us based on our reputation as welders."
Becoming known as good craftsmen was not a matter of chance. Networking and hard work got Finley and his noncommissioned officer known around FOB Fenty.
"We started networking as soon as we arrived on the FOB," said Sgt. Joseph Lowery, machinist NCO from Leitchfield, Ky. "We got some information from the 4th Infantry Division welders, but we went around to all the civilian contractors to make sure we could get materials and tools if we needed them."
Once the attack rendered the original gate irreparable, it needed to be replaced quickly. Time was of the essence, but durability was also a major pillar of constructing a replacement.
"If you build it shoddy, why build it at all," said Lowery. "The old gate was built with speed in mind. We want this new gate to have quality and last. Our thinking is 'what if I were on that gate.'"
There are many sayings about commitments being iron clad and people having steel spines. It is not often that anyone actually takes those sayings and transforms them from ideas into actual creations of steel.
"We're not doing this for us," said Finley. "This is to keep the bad guys out. You put your heard and soul into it and you are leaving a part it here."