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    Work meets play at the YMCA

    Work meets play at the YMCA

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Aaron Rognstad | U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers of the 994th Engineer Company, 244th Engineer Battalion,...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. Aaron Rognstad 

    207th Public Affairs Detachment

    Sitting atop a mountain plateau at 8,000 feet, the YMCA of the Rockies, Snow Mountain Ranch, sprawls some 5,000-plus acres in a pristine high country environment in the northern Colorado Rocky Mountains.

    On the premises, it's possible to mountain bike, fish, ride horses, zip-line, practice your archery skills, if you have any, and get in a nightly swim in a single day. It's here the Soldiers of the 994th Engineer Company, 244th Engineer Battalion, out of Denver, Colorado, are putting in work to improve the overall appearance and functionality of the resort.

    "It's always good to help out a nonprofit like the YMCA, and the major benefit for us is to do training in a high-altitude environment close to home." said 25-year-old 1st Lt. Guillermo Gonzalez of the 994th, officer-in-charge of the first rotation of Soldiers for the mission. "It's a little bit more intrinsic."

    For the next two months the 130-plus Soldiers of the 994th will build various construction projects to include shade shelters, a storage shed, a fire pit and bath house remodels. For their hard work, the Soldiers will get to use the resort's facilities and enjoy the high alpine activities afforded by the mountain resort in their off time.

    "The last few years we've been spending our ATs (annual trainings) in Central America doing Beyond the Horizons (humanitarian construction project missions), which is great, but this is a nice change of pace in that it's in this beautiful setting right in our own backyard," said Sgt. 1st Class Donald Ranson of the 994th, a police officer in the civilian world in nearby Winter Park. "Our soldiers are getting as good of an amount of training as they would on a Beyond the Horizons mission, while being recognized by all the tourists, guest and staff up here."

    Being on display as they work is nothing new for the engineers of the 994th. The previous three annual trainings have been spent in dense urban areas with tons of onlookers interested in the Soldiers' progression on the job site. Their work in Panama, El Salvador and Guatemala has seen the construction of schools and medical and dental clinics.
    But this summer, the unit is taking pride helping out the state most of them call home.

    "These projects allow us to interact with the local community who don't necessarily know that the Army does these sorts of missions," said Spc. Kyle Hawkins, a heavy equipment operator with the 994th who is working on a shade shelter right below the zip line. "It's really cool. The kids love us. They get to climb in the HUMVEES and we're constantly talking to them all day."

    And at the end of the day, the 994th get to relax in one of the more beautiful Colorado settings for their annual training. Something they haven't been able to do ... maybe ever.



    Date Taken: 06.15.2017
    Date Posted: 06.20.2017 21:55
    Story ID: 238433
    Location: GRANBY, CO, US 
    Hometown: DENVER, CO, US
    Hometown: GRANBY, CO, US
    Hometown: WINTER PARK, CO, US

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