By Sgt. Karl Williams, 3HBCT PAO, 1st Cav. Div.May 26, 2010
FORT HOOD, Texas - With artillery shells flying overhead, engineers from C Company, 3rd Brigade Combat Team Special Troops Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division, massed in bunkers at Fort Hood's Curry Demo Range and prepared for their world to explode.
"Fire in the hole...fire in the hole...fire in the hole," could be heard from outside the bunker.
For a split second, the world around them was quiet.
Then, there was a violent explosion and the earth vibrated as a shockwave raced pass the bunker.
"That was cool," said combat engineer Pvt. William McGuigan, as smoke from the explosion disappeared into the distant sky.
Wednesday's explosions were just a fraction of the 2,000 pounds of explosive expected to be detonated by the "Cold Steel Sappers" during their demolition range exercise May 17-21.
"The training goes back to our basic combat skills and focuses on things that engineers need to know," 1st Sgt. Daniel Cliatt said. "Plus, this is great for morale, because engineers like to blow stuff up."
Each platoon received a full day on the demo range. Squad leaders received an allotment of demolition charges and were given various locations to assemble it.
"I think it's important that we get our guys out to the demo range to train," said Staff Sgt. Nicholas Ochs, of Freemont, Ohio. "We get away from this stuff and then people forget about it; maybe someone gets hurt. This is first-rate training and it needs to be done."
To provide maximum safety, non-commissioned officers followed prescribed Army regulations for safe distances, and Hesco fortified barriers in the front and a bunker for overhead protection.
2nd Lt. Peter Thompson, a platoon leader who served as the range's officer-in-charge said for the past few weeks NCOs went through a train-the-trainer course with demo certified cadre to ensure safety and they provide oversight for engineer once they go down-range to prime their explosives.
During the week-long training, the engineers set off more than twenty explosions. From detonating C4 to shape charges that prepared the ground to detonate a crater charge, the engineers familiarized themselves with many of the demo-related tasks they may encounter in a combat zone.
Pfc. Sydney Von Seggern, a medic from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd BSTB said she was pleased with how well the training went and happy that the engineers treated her like one of them.
"I love how they had me participating and learning what they do," said Von Seggern.
They treated me like a combat engineer, and I couldn't get any better training."