By 1st Lt. Marvin Nelson, 46th ECB (H), 225th Eng. Bde.July 27, 2009
BAGHDAD - Life continues to returns to normal in the Ghazaliyah district of Baghdad , as Soldiers from Company A, 46th Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy), 225th Engineer Brigade and security elements from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Armor Division spent four days working together to remove a dilapidated building.
The rundown building had become an eyesore in the neighborhood and if not taken care of properly could have become a hiding place for explosives.
"The work [we are doing] continues to improve the living conditions for everyone in this area," said Staff Sgt. Lawrence Willeford, non-commissioned officer in charge, 46th ECB (H), from Lawton, Okla. "When we went out originally to conduct the reconnaissance for the scope of work that needed to be accomplished, there were three sites that required horizontal engineer work. After we conducted the reconnaissance, two out of the three sites had already been completed by the Iraqis, which was awesome, because it shows the Iraqis are already taking the lead in taking care of their own country."
Working at night, security elements blocked off and secured the site, which encompassed a small city block. Once the security element was set, bomb-sniffing dog teams from the combat engineers, military police, and U.S. Marines, searched the area for possible explosives. As soon as the security element gave the signal the area was clear, the engineers went to work.
Work started with two large 30-ton bulldozers knocking down the side walls of the 12-foot tall structure to bring down the building and its four foot thick concrete roof. It took the engineers less than one hour to completely topple the 150-foot long, 20-foot wide building. Once the building had fallen, the dozer operators began crushing the sidewalls and roof into smaller, more manageable pieces. The smaller chunks of concrete rubble were then loaded into three 20-ton dump trucks, to be hauled off to a dump site.
"The mission was a team effort by both engineers and our security elements," said Sgt. Nicholas Rogers, a heavy equipment operator team leader from New Bloomfield, Pa. "Together we removed over 120 cubic meters of heavy concrete rubble and twisted metal."
With the building and other large debris and rubble removed from the area, the cleared lot now denies enemy forces the opportunity to hide explosive devices and more importantly, removed a constant reminder of the violence that used to threaten the area's population.
The mission accomplished in the Ghazaliyah area lets the local citizens know that the U.S. military is still dedicated to their security.