Bridge company building stronger connections

By Mrs. Melissa K Buckley (Leonard Wood)September 12, 2013

Bridge company building stronger connections
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

If you want to learn how to build the big Army bridges, you have to come to Fort Leonard Wood.

The 814th Multi-Role Bridge Company, Fort Polk, La., brought 120 Soldiers here to get hands-on training with bridges they will be building when they deploy next year.

The bridges they worked with while on post were the Acrow Military Bridge, Mabey-Johnson Bridge, Bailey Bridge, Dry Support Bridge, Improved Ribbon Bridge and Medium Girder Bridge.

The "Kings of the River," as the 814th MRBC is known as at Fort Polk, were here more specifically for the Acrow Military Bridge, Mabey-Johnson Bridge and the Medium Girder Bridge; pieces of equipment they could only train with on Fort Leonard Wood.

"We don't have this opportunity at Fort Polk," said Pfc. Leslie Bentley, bridge crewmember. "I like the Acrow because I have never even heard of it before I got here. It feels good to learn a new bridge."

The Acrow bridge is the largest bridge the Army uses. It's designed to carry the weight of the military's heavy metal fleet and tracked vehicles.

"We really came here for the Acrow, because we have been told that it is the main bridge we will be involved with once we are deployed," said Sgt. 1st Class Keenan Matthews, 1st platoon sergeant.

Matthews said bringing his company to Fort Leonard Wood was the key to their future deployment's success.

"There is no substitute for experience. You can only learn so much from a PowerPoint or simulator. They had to come here to get their hands on these bridges -- feel the weight and what it takes to put it together," Matthews said.

Bentley agreed.

"We have to know what we are doing when we are in an unfamiliar territory. It's critical to get hands-on these bridges before we deploy," he said.

1st Sgt. Robert Ferguson, 814th MRBC, said Fort Leonard Wood not only trained his bridge crewmembers, but the maintainers, too.

"The maintainers were able to get training on repairing and trouble shooting a myriad of engineer equipment: bulldozers, excavators and bridge launchers. They were also trained on air conditioning, welding and electronic wiring. They were able to through the help of Equipment Support Company 66. The staff there was more than happy to train our Soldiers and coach them through repairing equipment," Ferguson said.

Ferguson was thankful to all the people on Fort Leonard Wood that helped make the most of his company's time on post.

"Fort Leonard Wood definitely met our needs. We'd like to thank the Equipment Concentration Site, cadre of TA250, Missouri National Guard Barracks cadre, Dining Facility 1011, Training Aids Service Center and the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence staff," Ferguson said. "The Soldiers and noncommissioned officers learned a lot while they were here and got a chance to improve their teamwork. They realized the impact of time and personnel management. I am extremely proud of the men and women in this organization. They worked tremendously hard while they were here and have become a stronger unit."

Related Links:

Fort Leonard Wood on Flickr

Fort Leonard Wood Guidon Newspaper

Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonad Wood