News: Fording obstacles, bridging shores
Story by Sgt. Hector Corea
FORT MCCOY, Wis. - The 739th Engineer Battalion conducted bridge operations as part of a Combat Support Training Exercise on Fort McCoy, Wis., during the month of August.
The CSTX is a monthlong training event meant to prepare Army Reserve units for deployment readiness. The exercise is designed to assist combat-service and combat-service-support units in planning, preparing, supervising, and executing pre-mobilization collective training.
As part of their collective training, the 739th Engineer Battalion participated in convoy operations, squad tactics, and their main military occupational specialty-bridge building.
“Our job is to help units maneuver from point A to point B,” said Staff Sgt. Scott Apking, a bridge crew member and platoon sergeant with the 739th Engineer Battalion. “We build bridges to transport personnel and equipment to where they need to go.”
The process of assembling a float bridge involves three steps. To begin, soldiers unload Bridge Erection Boats into a body of water.
“We make sure to deploy the boats safely and efficiently,” said Sgt. Ross Tennant, a bridge crew member and squad leader with the 739th Engineer Battalion. “The training is always a challenge but my soldiers know exactly what to do.”
Once all BEBs are fully functional and on the surface of the water, they then unload buoyant bridge bays into the water and attach BEBs to each individual bridge bay, allowing the bays to be maneuvered across water.
“It’s very task intensive,” said 1st Lt. Michael Barton, a bridge crew member and platoon leader with the 739th Engineer Battalion. “Although, it’s a good chance to practice their job proficiencies.”
The last part of the process involves affixing the bridge bays into one coherent piece, which requires close communication between each BEB. Once the bridge is fully assembled, the BEBs maneuver the bridge perpendicular to the river stream, connecting the two shores and allowing units and equipment to cross safely to their destination.
“Bridge building is just an awesome job,” said Spc. Ethan Allman, a bridge crew member and St. Louis native with the 739th Engineer Battalion. “It’s really rewarding to see it all put together.”
Soldiers of the 739th Engineer Battalion will remain on Fort McCoy until the end of August as part of their annual training.
“I’m glad to be out here for some training,” said Spc. Alexis Cook, a bridge crew member with the 739th Engineer Battalion. “It’s a lot of fun. There’s always something to do.”
““We’re all excited for what’s come,” said Tennant, a Grand Ridge, Ill., native. “[The CSTX] is a good opportunity to practice warrior tasks as well.”