News: The 652nd engineers, the mission they'll be telling their grandkids about
By Cadet William Cynecki
HAPPY VALLEY-GOOSE BAY, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada — Soldiers from the 652nd Engineer Company based out of Hammond, Wisconsin, and Marquette, Michigan, were awarded an off day thanks to their sooner-than-expected results constructing a bridge in a remote location referred to as the Austere Operations Training Center (AOTC).
"You have to reward your troops," said Capt. Jared Emmart, Commander of the 652nd Engineers. "They've done an exceptional job with the bridge so far and deserve a day to enjoy the great outdoors."
The Soldiers decided to spend their free day on a rigorous hike through Labrador-Newfoundland's mountainous countryside.
"A lot of these men and women are from the cities where they spend the majority of their free time indoors," explained Sgt. Warren Pedersen a squad leader from Lake City, Minnesota. "I was glad to see them enjoy the nature here and challenge themselves physically."
Challenge themselves they did.
The Soldiers spent the day bushwhacking through thick brush, climbing jagged mountains and walking down steep slopes throughout Northeastern Canada's rugged terrain.
"The view from the top of the mountain is much more rewarding when you actually climb it rather than just driving one of the ATVs up there," said Spc. Erica Ryan, a medic with the 652nd who also lives in Lake City, Minnesota.
The AOTC is located 65 miles away from civilization, which forces the troops to be innovative when conducting physical training.
"We've been running up and down the trails with large logs, lifting miscellaneous rocks, doing squats with sandbags and of course hiking," said Ryan, whose legs have accumulated plenty of bruises after trudging through the thick-Canadian brush.
The Soldiers typically spend the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. working on their bridge project, after which time they’re free to do as they please.
"Many of us will never have the opportunity to be in a region like this again, which is why we choose to spend our free time rucking and venturing the countryside," said Pedersen, who has been in the Army for 17 years.
Emmart, who resides in Stoughton, Wisconsin, agrees.
"This is the mission they will be telling their grandkids about," said Emmart.
The company is attached to the 980th Engineer Battalion from Austin, Texas, who is working on five projects in support of 5 Wing Goose Bay.