News: Engineer troops improve range, mitigate brush-fire risk
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, HAWAII – Troops from the 523rd Engineer Company, 84th Engineer Battalion, answered the call from U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii and Range Control Department in December, completing a weeklong berm-improvement mission at the Schofield Barracks range where recurring brush fires have started.
The mission’s goal was to mitigate future fires, like the one caused by high temperatures that broke out Oct. 15, was put out five days later, resumed two days after that, and was ultimately extinguished Oct. 28. It required six helicopters, an unmanned aerial vehicle, and ground personnel from multiple organizations to monitor and end the fire.
Schofield units use the range for controlled detonations to dispose of unexploded ordnance or dud rounds that are found on and around other ranges. The original berm was approximately 7-feet tall and 15-feet wide at the base, and the 523rd’s goal was to increase it to 20-feet tall and 20-feet wide at the base.
The company conducted 24-hour operations Dec. 9-13 to meet the range control’s timeline, ultimately exceeding its goal by building the berm to 22-feet tall and 35-feet wide at the base.
“We were able to start where the day shift left off and were able to work with fewer distractions,” said Spc. Anthony Velazquez, a night-crew member. “The day shift would set up the lights, and we continued building through the night.”
The company maximized personnel with two platoons hauling dirt to the project site, while a third ran the construction of the berm.
Sgt. 1st Class Chad Johnson, the platoon sergeant for 3rd Platoon’s “Construction Ninjas,” said, “We had to manage all the soldiers who were attached to us from other platoons, mission-capable vehicles, and the flow of dump trucks to the project site. Very quickly we pulled together as a team.”
The troops relocated more than 5,800 cubic yards of dirt during the mission, mitigating the chance of brush fires in the vicinity, while increasing safety and the range’s ability to conduct critical training.