By 2nd Lt. Benjamin C Hansen, platoon leader for the 523rd Engineer Company, 84th Engineer Battalion, 130th Engineer Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment CommandNovember 28, 2012
HONOLULU, Hawaii --Throughout the months of September and October, the 523rd Engineer Company (Horizontal), 84th Eng. Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, had the rare opportunity to team up with the Air Force and conduct a unique construction mission to repair and reconstruct the Kane's Drop Zone in the Kahukus Training Area.
The drop zone was originally designed to support heavy equipment, supply cargo and personnel drops. Over time, however, the drop zone became unsuitable and unsafe for heavy equipment and personnel drops. Additionally, Air Force recovery vehicles could not access sections of the drop zone due to erosion and rutting on the roads.
"Before heavy equipment drops could resume, the Air Force required reconstruction work of the drop zone and on the roads leading into Kane's DZ," said Sgt. 1st Class Rodriquez Mizell, platoon sergeant.
The scope of work given to the 523rd was to clear, grub, grade and compact a 500-by-200 foot section of the obstructed drop zone, and install drainage structures along the access road leading to Kane's DZ.
Capt. Jeffrey Beeman, commander, 523rd Eng. Co., assigned the project to 1st Platoon in mid-September. The platoon assigned a squad-sized element, led by squad leader Staff Sgt. Jeimie Deras, to complete construction in nine days.
"Motivation was high preparing for the project, and the area was great to work in," said Sgt. John McAllister, a team leader.
The squad used bulldozers and graders to clear and grub the area. They removed the rolling mounds of earth and uneven terrain to level the drop zone and clear it of earth obstacles. After achieving a final grade, the squad compacted the soil and created a stable surface with a roller. As a result, recovery vehicles can now freely traverse the terrain and recover any drops.
After completing construction of the main drop zone, Deras undertook the task of repairing the drainage along the main access road leading to Kane's DZ. The previous conditions did not have proper storm water drainage, resulting in the road being at high risk of erosion and rutting with every rainstorm. Recovery vehicles could not effectively reach Kane's DZ under the road's conditions.
The solution was to install three broad-based diversion ditches and various turnoff ditches that allowed storm water to flow freely across the road into natural vegetation, eliminating erosion and hazardous conditions.
The drainage repair was coordinated through the Integrated Training Area Management on Schofield Barracks.
Deras's squad finished construction and road repair Oct. 5, one week prior to the 523rd "Bulldogs," and the Air Force conducted a heavy equipment drop on Oct. 12. The drop zone was safe, and recovery equipment successfully retrieved all cargo.
"This project challenged me to become a better operator," said Pfc. Brandon Brown. "I learned a lot from watching my fellow squad members work as a team and make a project come together. I look forward to similar projects in the future."