News: USACE Galveston District Spotlight on Louis Esqueda
Story by Sandra Arnold
GALVESTON, Texas – Whether working in southern Afghanistan or South Texas, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District’s Construction Control Representative Louis Esqueda’s responsibilities remain the same – to review plans and monitor work methods to ensure safety activities for contract compliance.
For three out of the five years Esqueda has been with the Corps, he has voluntarily deployed to Southern Afghanistan to oversee the construction of several Afghan police stations, border patrol stations, Afghan army bases and an educational facility at the University of Herat. As the project engineer for the first modern building at the university, he had a rare opportunity to interact with students who were scheduled to occupy the building and learn how this construction project would impact their lives.
“During my site visits, the security team would clear a couple of the students who wanted to shake my hand and say thanks to the U.S. and the Corps of Engineers for providing them with a modern learning facility, running water, indoor bathrooms, modern lighting and heating,” Esqueda said. “I quickly learned that as simple and common as these things are to us, in other parts of the world they are an extreme luxury.”
Making countless trips to the surrounding provinces in the western part of the country to oversee these projects, Esqueda explains that he learned a lot about alternative ways of construction and enjoyed the chance to meet people from a different culture but adds that he’s glad to back working on projects in Texas.
“I am excited to be back working with the Galveston District in South Texas and know the experience I have brought back from my deployments will be beneficial to the Corps, my coworkers and my career,” said Esqueda. “I started working on my first dredging and jetty project, which I have found to be very interesting and feel fortunate to be given the opportunity to expand my construction knowledge by being assigned to the dredging and jetty projects.”
The district began work on a $14.5 million jetty repair project at the entrance to the Brownsville Ship Channel last May to repair the base of both the north and south jetties to include replacing stones that were moved and damaged as a result of Hurricane Ike.
Jetties, also known as stone breakwaters, minimize wave action along the shoreline and prevent sediment from filling the entrances to ship channels along the Texas coast, reducing dredging maintenance cycles.
"The repaired jetties will continue to prevent sediment from entering the ship channel and keep the waterway open to allow millions of tons of cargo, including critical commodities that contribute to the economic strength of the nation, to be shipped to various ports," said Esqueda.
While he enjoyed his time serving in Afghanistan, this Texas native says he plans to remain stateside and looks forward to working on his next project - the Falfurrias Border Patrol Check Point Station.
A U.S. Army veteran, Esqueda earned a bachelor’s degree in construction management with a minor in finance from the University of Texas at San Antonio. When not at work, he enjoys spending time cooking with his family and running.
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