By Mrs. Martha Yoshida (Leonard Wood)April 26, 2019
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (April 18, 2019) -- The U.S. Army Engineer School hosted Engineer Regimental Week April 8-12 on post, bringing senior leaders together from across the regiment with a focus on "Bridging the Gap to 2035."
A key component of Engineer Regimental week was the Senior Engineer Leadership Conference, or SELC, where the regiment looked at ways to ready and modernize the force. The two-day summit gave leaders time to build consensus on critical issues and document lessons learned.
The Army Engineer Association hosted 66 industry exhibits at Nutter Field House April 9 and 10. These exhibits consisted of everything from construction equipment and robotics, to training simulators and power generation equipment. According to AEA Regimental Operations Director, Command Sgt. Maj. Julius Nutter, U.S. Army retired, the event gave military and civilian personnel the opportunity to see current and future equipment, meet industry partners and build awareness of capabilities.
Concurrent to the industry exhibition, 70 spouses, service members and friends of the Engineer Regiment had an opportunity to "Bridge the Gap" during the annual Family Readiness Group Day April 9 at Training Area 250. Participants enjoyed a team-building series of events, including a grapnel hook toss, a Talon robot race, a backhoe loader demonstration, and a task to plot points using surveying equipment. The final event was to create a raft by using two bays of an improved ribbon bridge. According to Capt. Chasen Hardin, 35th Engineer Battalion, the event provided spouses with a deeper understanding of Engineer capabilities within the regiment, while also providing an opportunity for spouses to network.
The 13th annual Lt. Gen. Robert B. Flowers Best Sapper Competition concluded with an awards ceremony April 11 on Gammon Field. In a heavily-contested race to earn the title as the next Best Sapper, Capt. John Baer and 1st Lt. Terence Hughes representing Team #17 with the 39th Brigade Engineer Battalion, Fort Campbell, Kentucky, emerged as this year's top-placing team.
During the Fallen Sapper Tribute hosted by the 554th Engineer Battalion April 11 at the Sapper Memorial Grove, the regiment reflected on the lives and service of fallen Sappers and comrades who participated in both past and current military operations in defense of the nation. A special tribute was paid to U.S. Army Ranger Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Celiz, who died July 12, 2018, while serving during Operation Freedom's Sentinel. Celiz completed Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training as a combat engineer at Fort Leonard Wood. Currently, 382 names are honored on the Fallen Sapper memorial wall as a result of 17 plus years of conflict supporting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
More than 2,700 members of the Engineer Regiment stepped off from Gammon Field for a brisk early-morning run Friday. Capt. Jordan Worley, 31st Engineer Battalion, action officer for this year's event, said the run was a great way to cap off the week.
"The Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force joined us again this year, in order to celebrate all Engineers worldwide," Worley said. "It was fun once we executed the event and even better to watch it all come together."
Three key addresses were made by senior leaders beginning with the 97th Commandant the Engineer School, Brig. Gen. Robert Whittle Jr., who presented the regiment's plan, while emphasizing the importance of communication and relationship building.
"The breadth of what we do in the Engineer Regiment is very wide," Whittle said. "One of the greatest things we can do is stay connected. By staying connected we are able to advocate and keep all of you informed. When we are all on the same page, we move the regiment forward."
Whittle said with advancements in technology, the Engineer Regiment has the opportunity to lead the Army's efforts in key tasks, like autonomous mine detection, terrain shaping, earth moving and rafting.
In keeping with the theme, the commandant issued a call to action.
"We are all in this together," Whittle said. "As we move forward and modernize, we all have a role in ensuring the Engineer Regiment remains relevant to the Army. I ask you, 'How can you help bridge that gap?'"
Following the commandant's address, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers North Atlantic Division Commanding General, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Milhorn, shared his experience and insight, echoing that relationships matter.
Milhorn emphasized the importance of integrating new employees and their families into the organization quickly.
"You can't do it alone," Milhorn said. "This is one thing to take away. You cannot do it alone. Take the time to embrace the people who join your organization from the very beginning, within hours or days upon arrival, not weeks or months, so people know where they fit and what to expect."
The 54th Chief of Engineers provided the final address to the regiment on Friday.
"This morning in 110 different countries our Soldiers woke up to be able to do our job to defend this nation," Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers commanding general, said. 'We have people who want to challenge our way of life around the world. Even at home we get forced to step up to protect Americans."
Semonite emphasized the value of America's Army to the nation.
"Our Army needs our Engineers," Semonite said. "Sergeant Major Houston and I are proud of everything you do. You figure out how to make our regiment better. We have a lot more work to do and we have got the best Soldiers to accomplish it."
The hallmark of Engineer Regimental Week was the Engineer Ball and Awards Ceremony held Friday at Nutter Field House. Jim Rowan, USAES deputy commandant, was presented the Gold De Fleury Medal for his long history of service to the nation and the regiment. Several other individuals and units were recognized that evening for their outstanding contributions to the regiment.