1st SFG (A) Bridging the Gap

By Staff Sgt. Christopher HarperDecember 11, 2017

1st SFG (A) Building Bridges
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, WA - Sgt. Kevin Mollenhour, an engineer from the 555th Engineer Brigade, examines the newly built Murray Creek Bridge before the official ribbon cutting ceremony, Dec. 4, 2017. The joint project between the 1st Special Forc... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, WA - In keeping with one of its core truths, "most special operations require non-SOF assistance," the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) reached out to the engineers of the 555th Engineer Brigade, the Triple Nickel Brigade, to partner in training that resulted in real world solutions.

Together, the units built a bridge on the 1st SFG (A) Compound over Murray Creek. The 65-foot bridge, a project that began more than two years ago, officially opened Dec. 4, when the commanders for both units cut the ceremonial ribbon.

"Once we broke ground in July, we moved efficiently to clear a trail for materials and equipment," said Sgt. Kevin Mollenhour, a horizontal construction engineer with the 555th Engineer Brigade. "This project has been a challenge, but fun."

The 1st SFG (A) footprint at JBLM had been bifurcated by Murray Creek and its dense surrounding vegetation since expanding with the creation of its 4th Battalion and Group Support Battalion. The new bridge will now facilitate foot traffic between the two areas previously needing circumnavigation.

In addition to the logistics involved with constructing a bridge, it was important that Murray Creek and the surrounding wooded area remained as undisturbed as possible. The joint construction team had to tread carefully and was cognizant of environmental impact of the project.

"Most of the construction was completed by hand or reach," said Maj. David Cox the 1st SFG (A) engineer, of the care and complexity of the operation.

The bridge project did more than just connect the separated 1st SFG (A) compounds.

"This bridge, in addition to being an example of SOF and conventional force cooperation, will also stand as an example of the cooperation between engineer units and the installation to reach a common goal," said Col. John (Chris) Becking, the commander of the 555th Engineer Brigade.

Special Operations units like the 1st SFG (A) depend on enabling joint service partners like the engineers to utilize their specific skills to increase the unit's capabilities and effectiveness throughout the world.

"As we work to become more interoperable with our Army partners, this bridge is an example of our two units coming together, to not only bridge Murray Creek, but also to bridge the gaps in training and technical skill of our engineer Soldiers," said Col. Will Beaurpere, commander of the 1st SFG (A).

The ribbon cutting ceremony coincided with the opening day of the 1st SFG (A) Menton week, a celebration of its history and shared partnerships. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the 1st SFG (A).

"I have no doubt Green Berets 60 years from now will be walking across this bridge," said Beaurpere. "It serves as a constant reminder of the partnership between our units."