News: Guardian soldiers save history for future generations
Story by Staff Sgt. Meillettis Patton
CAMP BEAUREGARD, La. – Before streets paved the way for modern civilization, there were limited resources to claim the untamed lands within the forest. Forest trees spread from hilltops to valleys transforming and covering the earth, uprooting and renewing in a constant process. Waiting beneath the surface in the mist of forestry and beneath the soil lay unforeseen discoveries. Today’s engineers create and transform forging new possibilities and unmasking lost elements along the way.
On July 8 - 31 the 687th Engineer Company (Warhorse), 46th Engineer Battalion, 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, began work on a new project site for the United States Marshall services in the vicinity of Camp Beauregard. The project is located on the back side of range 4. The engineers work long hours clearing roughly 6 acres of pinewood forestland and uprooting trees long embedded in the earth’s surface.
The U.S. Marshal Service contacted 1st MEB engineers in February requesting construction of a small arms range. The project requested 6 separate lanes capable of multi-purpose small arms weapon engagements both mounted and dismounted.
This project achieves multiple training objectives for the 1st MEB soldiers. They gain experience on project planning & management, drivers training, and tactical skills engagements in preparation for unified land operations.
“When we arrived on site there were trees everywhere,” said Staff Sgt. Aaron Licklider, Project NCOIC of 687th Engineer Company.
None of the engineers knew what was lurking amongst the trees in the forest and to their surprise laid an unforeseen discovery. A decommissioned tank was found 100 meters from the roadway on the northeast corner of the project site during the project recon phase. Soldiers moved the tank to the Camp Beauregard Museum Complex for restoration and future display. A museum curator identified it as a World War II Stuart tank that might have been sold and used as a farm tractor after the war. Once decommissioned, the front armor was cut out to allow the user to operate without limited observation.
“I feel like we made a contribution to history, said 2nd Lt. G’nelle Franklin, Project OIC, 687 EN Co. “We learned about it [Stuart tank] and its origin; I can’t wait to come back here and see it (restored) at the museum.”
The soldiers waste no time getting back to work after removing the tank. They use a scraper, HYEX, Grader, Roller, and Dozer (D7R) along with other military rolling stock to accomplish a forceful take down rising to the challenge and take down everything to complete the mission. With this equipment the unit trained engineers and uprooted the World War II Stuart Tank from its resting place.
“Tree removal is easy,” said Licklider. “It’s after you remove them. This is the bread and butter.”
Surprises do not stop when the trees come down and are cleared away. The removal of tree stomps and layers of earth leads to other species of discovery.
“The next steps: remove any remaining tree stomps, cutting into the dirt, smoothing it out and making it a large flat surface with berms surrounding three sides,” said Licklider. “The soldiers are motivated, they motivate us [the leadership].”
In between breaks soldiers take a moment to show off some objects and skeletons they find along the way. One soldier holds up a skull pieced together with military 5-50 cord holding its jaw inline. They all guess what animal it belonged to and unanimously decide it must have been a wild boar because it has side horns protruding forward.
“Licklider found the skull. He is like an archeologist,” joked Spc. Clarence Norvell who claims the skull as his own.
“I’m going to put it in my car,” said Norvell.
The Engineers show a keen enjoyment for the opportunity to work in this large-scale capacity.
“I always enjoy the opportunity to come out, build something, and get away from Fort Polk,” said Spc. Michael Cadwell, heavy equipment operator for 687th En. Company.
“My favorite part of the project is seeing the finished product,” said Licklider. “Knowing what it looked like in the beginning and seeing the end state. These guys make it easy. They love what they do and have a lot of fun. We are all a team here working at one goal.”
“I’m proud that they are able to execute and do what I expect and jealous because I give them a piece of equipment and I might as well sit,” said Franklin.
On July 31, the warhorse engineers leave the U.S. Marshal project site with heavy hearts.
“I am please with the outcome, I hate it’s not longer,” said 2nd Lt. Franklin. The training value was good for my soldiers and we found an old RV, skulls and the a tank.
Engineers are paving the way with new projects making everyday better piece-by-piece and layer upon layer. The engineer’s projects help to ensure mission success and future readiness.
Soldiers in 687th Engineer Company (Warhorse), 46th Engineer Battalion, 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, work on the United States Marshal Services site in the vicinity of Camp Beauregard to clear away roughly 6 acres of pinewood forestland.