By 1st Lt. Nick Reisweber, 2nd Platoon Leader, 523rd Engineer Company, 84th Engineer Battalion, 130th Engineer Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment CommandMarch 27, 2013
GUAM -- While the submarine tender vessel, USS Frank Cable, sat docked idly next to their construction site, the Soldiers of Bravo Company, 84th Engineer Battalion, were anything but stagnant.
Second Platoon, currently stationed in Guam, has taken over from the Seabees of the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 74 on the Polaris Point Pure Water Tanker Storage Facility Project, nicknamed Project 808.
This 50 inch-by-56 inch all-concrete behemoth will hold two water tanks, containing the purified water required to keep the nuclear reactors in the Navy's submarines operational. Currently, these tanks stand exposed to the elements, complicating the integrity of these tanks.
The project is massive. The formwork covered walls and exposed rebar extending towards the heavens harkens back to the Frontier Era of outposts, forts, and battlements.
Despite the project's magnitude, professionalism on the jobsite is rampant. Scaffolding is perfectly level, every support is nailed to its specifications, and Soldiers move efficiently around the jobsite with a determined and driven expression welded to their face.
The diverse composition of the construction crew includes carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and heavy equipment operators. This diverse group, despite any perceived holes in their technical training, has already proven themselves as competent and qualified to work on any vertical jobsite.
Pvt. Jeffrey Saunders, a heavy equipment operator with B Co., demonstrated both his desire and his capability by volunteering at every opportunity and inhaling knowledge as he navigated around the jobsite daily. Sgt. Makalani Waldo, heavy equipment operator with B Co., showed a knack for management and directed his crew with the poise of a certified construction supervisor.
Having such a team of skilled workers ensured deadlines were met and training was accomplished: a welcome combination in an increasingly ambiguous situation in Guam.
Typically, lumber is the medium which the Army Engineer creates his latest piece. In Guam, however, concrete will serve as his canvas. The all concrete structure is a dramatic change from the construction of Iraq and Afghanistan that the Army has come to know best.
The reasoning behind concrete is twofold. First, Guam must import all its lumber and the shipping costs typically make building a large wooden structure too costly an option. Secondly, the typhoons that ravage Oceania are extremely powerful and treat 2x4s like toothpicks. Concrete, on the other hand, stands a better chance of survival against typhoons. So concrete it is!
In spite of these challenges, the platoon looks forward to the upcoming challenges of pouring the final five feet of walls and the nearly 80 tons on concrete for the roof.
As the Bravo Company "Bulldogs" of the 84th Eng. Bn. settle into their deployment routine, there is a new feeling of confidence in the air. Soldiers and leaders alike continue to push forward and tackle each new task with grace and ease, and no clearer is that represented than on Project 808.