By 1st Lt. Michael Cirillo, Company A, 46th ECB (H), 225 Eng. Bde., MND-BMay 8, 2009
BAGHDAD - Engineers assigned to Company A, 46th Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy), 225th Engineer Brigade, along with Iraqi Army engineers, made numerous upgrades to electrical grids, grounded countless showers and living quarters and moved hundreds of tons of trash and debris from roadways throughout Baghdad May 4.
The 23rd IA Brigade Commander, Lt. Col. Akram had a vision to refit existing concrete guard towers with wooden safety platforms to increase the safety of the Soldiers on his base and requested American engineer technical expertise and oversight.
Prior to starting the project, the four guard towers had rickety 15-foot ladders that stretch to the top of the tower. One IA Soldier was recently injured in a fall because of the unsteady ladders. The new ladders protect the Soldiers.
"The construction of two safety platforms per tower breaks a Soldier's fall at a much safer six feet," said Capt. Lisa Landreth, commander, Company A, who is a native of Fair Play, S.C. "Emplacing these safety platforms significantly reduces the risk of injury and increases the ability of Soldiers to extract a casualty in the event of an emergency."
San Antonio native, Sgt. Mark Jordan, a team leader, 2nd platoon, Company A, 46th ECB (H), spearheaded the joint wooden safety platform project and took the opportunity to give the Iraqi Engineers some much-needed training on the use of power tools while simultaneously making sure that the guard towers were upgraded to standard.
By using an interpreter, the U.S. and IA Soldiers were able to overcome the language barrier, one of the more challenging aspects to the project.
"Having to use an interpreter to translate everything made things go a little slower than normal," stated Jordan. "But, once [the 23rd IA Soldiers] understood what I was saying, the platforms were built quite easily."
With the platforms complete, the Iraqi Soldiers can perform duties in their guard towers more confidently. Additionally, they have pride and a sense of ownership of the towers that they helped make more structurally sound and in their ability to pick up carpentry tools and get to work.