One White Sands Missile Range organization's necessity to rid themselves of an unsafe safety tower created a unique training opportunity for a company of Soldiers, to be deployed later this year. Soldiers from the 2nd Engineer Battalion, 573rd Clearance Company saved the Army Research and Laboratory organization from an estimated six figure demolition bill by demolishing the tower themselves as a form of demolition training, Jan. 19.
Soldiers of the company began preparing the tower for demolition at 6 a.m. for a scheduled 10 a.m. detonation. According to Platoon Leader, 1st Lt. Michael Villareal, one pound of C4 explosives were inserted into each of the four posts at the bottom of the tower. The top of the tower carried two kicker charges. Because the tower was settling towards the direction of a metal building that was 50 feet away, wires connected the tower to two Buffalo vehicles that would steer it in the opposite direction after detonation. Villareal said the challenge wasn't in the logistics of the demolition but in the inclusion of several non-military outsiders.
"I'm used to running just straight military ranges and incorporating that with civilians was interesting. The coordination and communication was outstanding though," Villareal said.
Villareal said the demolition not only provided the training the Soldiers needed but also brought about camaraderie between the Soldier after having received new privates late last year. Staff Sgt. Kendrick Shepard, one of the Soldiers who was tasked to prepare the tower prior to demolition, said they went through the motions of the tower preparation and demolition prior to the big day to ensure that everything went on smoothly. Shepard showed his excitement after the demolition went off as planned and he examined the remains of the tower.
"It was an exciting opportunity to show White Sands what engineers can do," Shepard said.
Platoon Sergeant, Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Wolford said this mission was not only cost cutting for the range, but it also created that hands on training his Soldiers needed before deployment. Wolford said though this particular training was standard practice for his Soldiers, he appreciates that his Soldiers were able to see firsthand how effective their equipment is against authentic structures.
"This is a really good training tool for us," Wolford said."It takes us out of a training environment and puts us in real world training. They get to see the effects and mitigate collateral damage in the process."
Villareal said he hopes that the success of this mission will put the company in a better light and will allow them to complete more missions for the installation in the future.