By Mr. Stephen Standifird (Leonard Wood)April 28, 2016
The U.S. Army Engineer School 2016 Regimental Week came to a close Friday following a week of engineer-specific activities and professional development.
In keeping with this year's theme, "Preparing the Engineer Regiment for Force 2025 and Beyond," the Sappers focused on the future of the regiment while still honoring the past.
The week began with the 10th Best Sapper Competition where 48, two-man teams competed to raise the coveted trophy and claim the title of best Sapper team.
Capt. Jason Bahmer and Sgt. 1st Class David Rizo, representing 37th Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, finished first in the competition.
"It was a well put on event, challenging the best out of the best throughout the Army, as far as combat engineers go," Rizo said. "It pushed me to the limits that even I didn't know I could do."
While the Best Sapper teams were competing, engineer spouses participated in the "Engineer Spouses: Strength of the Castle!" event. Nearly 50 engineer spouses got a chance to experience what their Soldier's do on a regular basis.
For one spouse, Jennifer Emmett, it was also a chance to do some things she's never done before.
"It's been awesome. I think I've learned a lot today," she said about having the opportunity to try out the heavy equipment simulators, receive classes on knot tying and rappel on the Warrior Tower.
The Senior Engineer Leader Council met April 21 and Friday to discuss the future of the engineers. One of the speakers during the Friday session was Maj. Lisa Jaster, one of the first female Soldiers to pass Ranger School and an Army Reserve engineer officer.
She related her experience in Ranger School and the obstacles she had to overcome to graduate, including gender stereotypes.
"Our culture has changed. As we mature, we are seeing a huge wealth and a huge opportunity by using more than 50 percent of our population in all aspects," Jaster said about gender integration in the Army. "You bring in a different type of thinking, and that is one of the benefits of opening our doors to everyone who could add value to our military."
The Engineer Regiment paid tribute to fallen Soldiers during the Sapper Memorial April 21 at the World War II Chapel and Sapper Grove.
"I think it is rightfully done during regimental week, a time of celebration, a time of personal achievement, that we all take a moment and pause and think about what those Soldiers, who made the ultimate sacrifice, have done for us and our Families," said Command Sgt. Maj. Bradley Houston, regimental command sergeant major.
The event is held annually to honor Soldiers whose names are inscribed on the Engineer Memorial Wall.
A tree dedication was held for Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick, 53rd chief of engineers at the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence Complex Friday to honor Bostick before his retirement in May.
"You never know where you're going to end up in life," Bostick said. "Not in wildest imaginations would I have imagined I'd be here. It takes a lot of help along the way, a lot of great Soldiers, a lot of great bosses and a lot of great missions to give you the opportunity to continue to serve. It goes by quickly, every day and every week."
According to the Engineer Regiment, USAES has a long tradition of honoring retiring chiefs of engineers by dedicating a Mount Vernon Red Maple grown from a seed taken from the original tree located at the Virginia home of George Washington, the nation's first president.
The first tree dedication at Fort Leonard Wood honored the 47th Chief of Engineers, Lt. Gen. Henry Hatch, in 1992 and has continued for every retiring chief of engineers since.
The week concluded with the Regimental Ball in Nutter Field House.