FORT KNOX, Ky., June 2, 2011 -- The 502nd Multi-Role Bridge Company, 19th Engineer Battalion, recently conducted a Bridge Erection Boat school in West Point, Ky. from May 31 to June 2.

The bridge erection school trained new boat operators on the effective utilization of the Mark II Bridge Erection Boat and Improved Ribbon Bridge during bridging operations as well as proper operator maintenance procedures.

“The training implemented at the bridge erection school is the bread and butter of the bridge builder military occupational specialty,” said 1st Lt. Pete Corley, a platoon leader with the 502nd Multi-Role Bridge Company, or MRBC. “It’s really important because at Fort Knox there’s limited time, opportunity and location to train, so we took advantage of the opportunity when we could.”

The 502nd MRBC began the bridge erection boat school with classroom instruction, which sought to familiarize the engineers with their equipment before they touched down at the West Point’s Salt River Recreation Area.

This recreation area was a prime location for the bridge erection boat school as it provided the adequate space and facilities needed by the 502nd MRBC to conduct its training.

While at Fort Knox, the 19th Eng. Battalion has volunteered to assist the West Point community with many projects, including cleanup after its most recent flood after torrid rains caused river levels to rise. As a result of their hard work in the area, Mayor William C. Ash, had no reservations about allowing the 502nd MRBC to train at their facility.

The bridge erection boat school focused on the basic operations of the MKII Bridge Erection Boat and the basic construction of the Improved Ribbon Bridge, a modular floating bridge that automatically unfolds when deployed in water.

Corley said that building bridges like the IRB is the primary mission of the 502nd MRBC while deployed. When deployed, Corley said the 502nd MRBC would be tasked to assist specific missions, which could possibly include deploying an IRB to aid in various troop maneuvers.

The last and final day of training saw the 502nd MRBC focus on the launch and construction of the IRB, using the MKII BEB to deploy and recover sections of the IRB in the Salt River.

“Some people don’t realize the importance of engineers and therefore don’t respect or understand what we do,” said Pvt. Nathan Stines, a bridge crewmember with the 502nd MRBC. “They don’t realize that we help the infantry and convoys get to where they need to be, and that’s important.”

Corley mentioned that the training went very well and was very valuable. He said it allowed the younger Soldiers of the 502nd MRBC to become familiar with their equipment while being a refresher for those who were experienced.

“Most of these Soldiers, with the exception of the sergeants and above, have not conducted this type of training since advanced individual training, especially those new to the unit,” said Corley. “The training went very well and being that the Salt River was slightly above its normal levels increased the training value. We’re actually performing ahead of the standard, which is an accomplishment because we’re basically starting from nothing.”