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    Hood Strike’s Mission Essential: The 74th Dive Team



    Story by Sgt. Javier Amador 

    210th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

    Ft. Hood, TX (July 22, 2019)
    A squad from the 74th Engineer Dive Detachment (EDD), 92nd Engineer Battalion, 20th Engineer Brigade stationed at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va. arrived at Ft. Hood July 12 to support exercise Hood Strike; a series of training events conducted by the units of the Army National Guard's 420th Engineer Brigade. The exercise, involving five engineer companies and nearly 2,500 personnel, mobilized soldiers in a tactical and austere training environment in preparation for their culminating event, building a Multi Purpose Bridge across Belton Lake (MRB) on July 23.

    The many capabilities the 74th EDD brings to the mission ensure the site is ready in order for the Multi Purpose Bridge Companies (MRBCs), the 361st MRBC, 391st Battalion, 926st Engineer Brigade out of Spartanburg, Sc., and the 341st MRBC, 489th Engineer Battalion 416th Engineer Brigade out of the Fort Chaffee Armed Forces Center in Fort Smith, Ar., to do their job.

    MRBs are designed to safely permit the transit of heavy military vehicles, and any number of Soldiers, across any given body of water. As a result, thorough preparation and knowledge of the potential site is critical.

    1st Lt. Christopher A. Thompson, a native of Albuquerque, Nm., and the executive officer of the 74th EDD, explains the areas of expertise his unit is employing in support of Exercise Hood Strike to ensure its success.

    “Our mission is to help support the Hood Strike exercise by painting a picture of the bottom of the crossing sites, and giving them an idea of what is underneath there so its safe for them to cross, and then giving them a bank assessment to make sure they get their vehicles to the site to build the bridge,” said Thompson.

    One of the tools to achieve the 74th mission is a specialized form of sonar (Sound Navigation Ranging) that allows them to identify potential hazards below the surface of the water.

    “We have a side scan sonar which basically allows us to see images of objects on the water floor that can impede the operation, “said Staff Sgt William D'Angelo, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fl., Platoon Sergeant of the 74th, and certified Army Master Diver . “We also have a hydro graphic survey sonar which gives us details of the contours of the riverbed to find the depths of the sandbar and other features.”

    “So it operates the same way a fish finder does by pinging depths, except we connect it to Global Positioning Satellites (GPS),” he said, “It then pings at the rate of ten per second as we move it in a zig-zag fashion. It’s very accurate.”

    Besides the surveying missions the 74th EDD are conducting, the divers are responsible for other essential aspects of Exercise Hood Strike.

    “Our other missions are to support them in anyway they need in the water, whether they need to use extra Zodiac inflatable boats or to drop off a drop zone to mark a landing spot,” said Thompson, “We (also) have light salvage capabilities so if they have a Humvee that drives off the bridge, or if personnel fall into the water and they sink to the bottom, we're the guys you call to recover the body or to help recover the Humvee,” said Thompson.

    The 74th EDD can also perform reconnaissance missions along with their many engineering tasks. As a result, they often have to operate independently, making it necessary that they have the ability to protect themselves, especially due to the fact that many times, they are sent out as small groups.

    “If this was a real (wartime) operation, we would pull our own security,” said D'Angelo, “We would go out ahead of the main unit, take out our Zodiacs, drop off our two far security guys and they would pull security on the bank while we conduct our assessments,” said D'Angelo.

    Because of the rigorous training and workload they are given, the divers of the 74th EDD form close-knit teams and train beyond the standard to maintain their ability to accomplish any mission assigned to them. This is something Thompson knows and appreciates greatly about the divers in his care. It’s an appreciation he is quick to express.

    “I seriously think I'm the luckiest guy in the Army,” said Thompson



    Date Taken: 07.23.2019
    Date Posted: 08.01.2019 13:28
    Story ID: 334093
    Location: FT. HOOD, TX, US

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