News: Missouri engineers tackle new challenges on Honduras training mission
Story by 1st Lt. John Quin
QUIMISTAN, Honduras – As members of a multi-role bridge company, the Missouri National Guardsmen of the 1438th Engineer Company are used to building bridges on their annual training missions.
This year, rather than spanning a gap between riverbanks, they and their fellow Guardsmen are building a bridge between nations as part of U.S. Army South’s Beyond the Horizon-Honduras mission.
The 1438th and fellow Missouri engineers from the 220th Engineer Company, of Festus, the 880th Engineer Team, of Perryville, and the 1138th Engineer Company, of Farmington and Fredericktown, are currently reaching beyond their usual engineer skill sets to build schools and clinics in Honduras.
Spc. John Crawford, of Rogersville, and Spc. Thomas Bell, of Kirksville, said building schools and clinics in Honduras is a big change from their usual annual training missions.
“It’s been different,” Bell said. “We don’t usually travel very far. It’s interesting to go see someplace new.”
“The last couple drills, we stayed at the Macon armory doing bridging,” Crawford added.
Although the engineers might have different missions like horizontal construction, hauling materials, or operating heavy equipment, all were up to the unique challenges posed by the building projects, said Sgt. 1st Class Charles Wickes, the site manager for the Quimistan clinic.
“We informed the units before they got here about what they’d be doing,” Wickes said. “That greatly affected the way we finished the project.”
As Guardsmen, many Soldiers brought skill sets from civilian jobs in construction, Wickes said. During his time as site managers, he had a wide range of civilian experts in dry wall, roofing and plumbing who were able to make the project even better than planned.
At a nearby worksite in Micheletti, Guardsmen from the 220th Engineer Company were having a similar experience, said Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Vitale, of Belleville, Ill.
“You have people who are strong because they do it on an everyday basis as construction workers back home,” Vitale said.
Those civilian skills greatly enhance the Guardsmen’s military mission and value, said Sgt. 1st Class Chris Hancock, of the 220th.
“We’ve got corrections officers, police officers, maintainers, auto parts professionals,” said Hancock, of DeSoto, Mo. “The National Guard has a hodgepodge of non-military capabilities.”
The Beyond the Horizon-Honduras mission is scheduled to end in early July.
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