By Staff Sgt. David OversonOctober 22, 2019
SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO -- Despite being the only U.S. Army Reserve unit under their hierarchy in the State of New Mexico, and separated by approximately 400 miles from their higher echelon, the small but mighty 333rd Engineer Detachment (Utilities) sets the example of being the most capable, combat-ready, and lethal Federal Reserve force in the history of the Nation.
To remain proficient in their skillsets, a typical battle assembly consists of continuously honing their craft. In between the essential tasks of ensuring Soldiers receive their flu vaccinations, or updating their personnel records, the unit whips out their toolkits to build something, anything. On this particular October battle assembly, it was a table.
"I like to keep the junior Soldiers engaged every drill with some type of project," said Sgt. Brandon Begay, a section sergeant with the 333rd. "We don't always have the time or resources to build something large, so I'll always bring in some lumber and have the guys take turns cutting and sanding on something. In this case, it's just a table, but it keeps them engaged and familiar with their tools of the trade."
The makeup of the unit is very diverse, from seasoned veterans like Begay who have deployed multiple times downrange, to privates fresh out of their Advanced Individual Training. However, they all seem to share the same enthusiasm of being proficient and ready to answer the call if ever needed.
"I just love being part of something larger than myself," said Spc. Shaylene Quigley, a carpentry and masonry specialist. "I've been with the unit about four years now, and though I'm the only female carpentry and masonry specialist here, we all get along great, help each other out, and encourage each other to be our best."
Gathering early Sunday morning at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, the unit also conducted its annual physical fitness test with a great deal of success.
"I'm really proud of these guys," said Sgt. 1st Class Eric Peterson, 333rd Detachment Sergeant. "Most of them do a great job of staying fit on their own, and they all did really well with their APFT today."
Building tables on a battle assembly weekend may seem trivial to some, but it keeps the Soldiers sharp for larger projects. In 2018 the 333rd joined Navy Seabees in constructing four homes on an Indian Reservation in Gallup, New Mexico, for Veterans in need. The Southwest Indian Foundation, or SWIF, is a charitable organization that relies solely on private donations, so when called, the 333rd stepped up.
"The 333rd enabled us to accomplish our mission of providing homes for Native American Veterans," said Jeremy Boucher, SWIF Director. "Without the assistance of the Army Reserve, we would not be able to do this project. We are a small nonprofit and could never provide enough funding to build as many houses as we do without the help of the Army Reserve. But it's more than just practical - to be able to be the catalyst for putting together a project that puts current military personnel to work for veterans in need is a huge source of pride for us."
Boucher said during the 333rd's time building homes for SWIF, it equaled approximately $30,000.00 in man-hours.
Whether it's a table, a house, or rappel towers for the New Mexico National Guard, the mighty 333rd is always ready to whip out their toolbelts and 'Build from the Ground Up.'