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    Building all they can in the Michigan Guard

    Building All They can in the Michigan Guard

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Tegan Kucera | An engineer bulldozes a tank trench, supporting the infantry who will later occupy...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Tegan Kucera 

    126th Public Affairs Operations Center

    Northern Strike 17 is the epitome of training and preparation and the engineers are doing both.
    “Eager to be here and get some training in,” said Spc. Aaron Holtz, a heavy equipment operator with the 1432nd Engineer Company Horizontal second platoon from Kingsford and Iron River, Michigan.
    Holtz along with much of the platoon is spending the first part of annual training preparing the trenches infantry Soldiers and Marines will be using throughout the two weeks of annual training. The platoon may be helping others, but they are getting their own training in as well.
    “Here we get to do a bunch of stuff we can’t do back home,” said Holtz a native of Ironwood, Michigan. “It’s just a good experience; a solid two weeks of training will make anybody better at anything they’re doing.”
    The platoon is located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula; this means they have much harsher weather than the rest of the country.
    “Living in upper Michigan during the winter months means our operating time is a lot more limited,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jesse Gendron the platoon sergeant for second platoon. “Northern Strike certainly helps our operators out, the opportunity to be able to run bulldozers, HMEEs high engineering mobility excavator, loaders, and some of the other equipment a lot more often.”
    Second platoon might be re-familiarizing themselves with the operations of the equipment, but many are trying something new as well by supporting other companies from a different battalion. They are supporting the 125th Infantry Battalion’s Golf Company by building defensive positions, tank defilades, vehicle fighting positions and five-man-fighting positions. Then they will get to cover everything back up and build something new for the Marines, who they will be working with in the second part of the exercise, showing how ready they are support all engineering operations.
    “We try to get in touch with agencies within our community just to see if they can find any work for us, and if we can help them out in any way,” said Gendron a Kingsford, Michigan, native. “I think so far we’ve been pretty successful with that, specifically working with the Department of National Resources.”
    For the engineers, any day they can get behind the controls of their heavy equipment is a good day, because this helps them figure out the depths of a tank ditch if they are in a bulldozer or the other things to figure out when their equipment.
    “Getting outside and using the equipment, definitely makes a difference,” said Cadet Jaque ‘Jake’ Barr the platoon leader for second platoon.
    Barr is new to engineers but has prior experience in truck driving so is used to operating heavy equipment and is excited to learn everything hands’ on.
    “I believe that the realer it is, the better the experience,” said Barr who is from Portland in the southern part of Michigan. “Everything briefs well on PowerPoint, but it definitely adds a factor of realism when you’re outside doing what you’re trained to do.”
    While many Soldiers and Marines from around the world are training in Michigan, there are a few who are digging in to support the many warriors here in Camp Grayling.
    Northern Strike 17 is a National Guard Bureau-sponsored exercise uniting approximately 5,000 service members from 13 states and five coalition countries during the first two weeks of August 2017 at the Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center and the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, both located in northern Michigan and operated by the Michigan National Guard. The newly accredited NS17 demonstrates the Michigan National Guard’s ability to provide accessible, readiness-building opportunities for military units from all service branches to achieve and sustain proficiency in conducting mission command, air, sea, and ground maneuver integration, together with the synchronization of fires in a joint, multinational, decisive action environment.



    Date Taken: 07.31.2017
    Date Posted: 08.01.2017 20:13
    Story ID: 243375
    Location: GRAYLING, MI, US 
    Hometown: IRON RIVER, MI, US
    Hometown: IRONWOOD, MI, US
    Hometown: KINGSFORD, MI, US
    Hometown: PORTLAND, MI, US

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