• Spc. Joshua Finley, E Troop, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment allied trade specialist, a native of Cortez, Colo., uses a plasma torch to cut a section of plate steel to use in the construction of gate at Forward Operating Base Fenty, Afghanistan, Dec. 11. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Duncan Brennan, 101st CAB public affairs)

    Welders

    Spc. Joshua Finley, E Troop, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment allied trade specialist, a native of Cortez, Colo., uses a plasma torch to cut a section of plate steel to use in the construction of gate at Forward Operating Base Fenty, Afghanistan...

  • Soldiers from E Troop, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment flip a steel frame into position onto a metal plate that will serve as a door in a gate on Forward Operating Base Fenty, Afghanistan, Dec. 11. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Duncan Brennan, 101st CAB public affairs)

    Welders

    Soldiers from E Troop, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment flip a steel frame into position onto a metal plate that will serve as a door in a gate on Forward Operating Base Fenty, Afghanistan, Dec. 11. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Duncan Brennan, 101st CAB...

  • Sgt. Joseph Lowery, E Troop, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment machinist noncommissioned officer, drives a forklift to get a large piece of sheet steel to where it can be cut to size for the construction of a gate at Forward Operating Base Fenty, Afghanistan, Dec. 11. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Duncan Brennan, 101st CAB public affairs)

    Rebuilding after attack

    Sgt. Joseph Lowery, E Troop, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment machinist noncommissioned officer, drives a forklift to get a large piece of sheet steel to where it can be cut to size for the construction of a gate at Forward Operating Base Fenty...

  • Spc. Joshua Finley, E Troop, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment allied trade specialist, a native of Cortez, Colo., makes welds along the edge of a gate as daylight wanes at Forward Operating Base Fenty, Afghanistan, Dec. 11. The gate being constructed to replace the one destroyed in an insurgent attack on the FOB on Dec. 2. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Duncan Brennan, 101st CAB public affairs)

    Welders

    Spc. Joshua Finley, E Troop, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment allied trade specialist, a native of Cortez, Colo., makes welds along the edge of a gate as daylight wanes at Forward Operating Base Fenty, Afghanistan, Dec. 11. The gate being...

  • Spc. Joshua Finley, allied trade specialist, a native of Cortez, Colo., and Sgt. Joseph Lowery, machinist noncommissioned officer, a native of Leitchfield, Ky., both with E Troop, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment pause during the construction of the replacement gate to take a photo Dec. 11. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Duncan Brennan, 101st CAB public affairs)

    Welders

    Spc. Joshua Finley, allied trade specialist, a native of Cortez, Colo., and Sgt. Joseph Lowery, machinist noncommissioned officer, a native of Leitchfield, Ky., both with E Troop, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment pause during the construction of the...

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."

Page last updated Fri December 14th, 2012 at 00:00