By Mrs. Martha Yoshida (Leonard Wood)May 25, 2017
Select Soldiers assigned to Fort Leonard Wood's 1st Engineer Brigade took a break from their training mission to spend time on the Big Piney River.
They were not taking a float trip, which is a popular area recreational activity. Instead, they were asked by the installation to complete a rapid bridge emplacement at the river's bank near Happy Hollow May 16 through Friday.
"We had Soldiers from the 554th Engineer Battalion's quarry support platoon and bridge crew members from the 35th Engineer Battalion putting in approaches so to help repair some roads in and around the golf course," said Capt. Jason Gibbs, Company A, 554th Engr. Bn. commander. "We brought in a roller, dozer and grader to clear out some of the trees that were in the way. Then we put down about 300 tons of gravel on the near side of the river."
"The 35th Engr. Bn. helped us ferry equipment and gravel across the river to prepare the far side for safe passage of contractor equipment," Gibbs added.
According to the Directorate of Public Works, the mission was assigned as a result of record floods that doused the area in late April.
"We needed to get in to repair Highway 26, which loops around the golf course to Happy Hollow, because flood waters blew out a 590-foot section of road," said Terry Collins, DPW civil engineer technician. "We also needed to gain access to complete concrete and asphalt work to get the road to Stone Mill Spring back up and running."
"Putting these Soldiers in charge of this aspect of the project proved to be a great solution," Collins, a retired Air Force combat engineer, said. "This really shows what these engineers are capable of doing."
The brigade's commander agreed.
"We received the mission Tuesday morning, had a recon at 1 p.m., and by 3:30 that afternoon, we were getting the mission going," said Col. Dale Snider, 1st Engineer Brigade commander.
Snider used this project as an opportunity to train new Soldiers.
"As an organization, we know we have these organic capabilities to provide support," Snider said. "These Engineers had a blast with this opportunity to conduct a real-world mission. They were able to blend the experience of officers and noncommissioned officers, who have had multiple deployments, with Soldiers who just recently graduated from their advanced skills training, to get the job done. I'm really proud of the entire team."
Beyond offering a means for safe passage, the process served to show the strength across post agencies.
"The project demonstrated the capabilities of a mutual effort between the 1st Engineer Brigade, the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and the U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood," said Command Sgt. Major Larry Orvis, garrison command sergeant major. "Each entity involved had a different stake in the project, but all had the same end state in mind, which was to restore full services to the installation."
This was a true "team of teams" concept, and the planning and communication that occurred for this to be successful, is a testament to all involved, Orvis added.