News: Combat engineers help make dwellings into homes
Story by Pfc. Melissa Escobar
By Army Pfc. Melissa M. Escobar
22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – A squad of 12 Soldiers with the 585th Engineer Company, 864th Engineer Battalion, Fort Lewis, Wash., is working to change living conditions for fellow Soldiers at Jalalabad Airfield.
The team, led by its squad leader, Army Staff Sgt. Gimaans Goeman, was hand-picked from the remainder of its platoon, based at Forward Operating Base Sharana, to assist in the building of "B-huts" for Soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, Task Force Spartan.
"We support wherever we are needed," said Goeman.
The engineers take approximately four days to build two eight-man B-huts. Thanks to their efforts, Soldiers of TF Spartan will live in cleaner, more spacious and better-protected living quarters. The squad takes pride in knowing what they do is a huge morale-booster for fellow Soldiers.
"How would your morale be if you had to live in a tent for a year? We've got Soldiers out there full of stress and it would be nice for them to come back from a mission to a B-hut instead of a tent," said Army Pvt. Tulio Saillant, a carpentry and masonry specialist from Brooklyn, N.Y.
"With a B-hut you have more security in where you live. They're more secure than a tent," said Goeman, a native of Ypsilant, Mich. "As far as I know we were picked because of our quality."
Their quality has not gone by unnoticed. Army Command Sgt. Maj. James Redmore, command sergeant major, TF Spartan, and a native of Harvey, Ill., recognized the engineers for their dedication to their job and presented each Soldier with a coin.
"Through their hard work and dedication to duty, they have successfully assisted in the build-up of this forward operating base," said Redmore.
The squad is always motivated and took pride in their own work. They woke up with hammers at hand, ready to accomplish their mission.
"I love carpentry. You have to think and you have to be creative. I learn a little bit more every day," Saillant said.
"My Soldiers are really hard workers. They're always looking to improve their skills and are committed to quality. I got really lucky and am blessed to have Soldiers who are serious about what they do. They want to do the hard work," Goeman said.
"We're high on morale, point blank, all the way every day. We're always motivated. The reason we work so fast is because we are always having fun," added Army Sgt. Jasper G. Pothoven, a carpentry and masonry specialist with 585th Eng. Co.
"It's nice to see the Soldiers happy when they can move into their new B-hut; when they recognize us and tell us what a good job we've done, it's rewarding. Even when we don't hear that from the Soldiers, carpentry is fun anyway. We don't mind doing the work," Goeman said.
With every new B-hut that the squad builds, Soldiers find themselves settling into a more permanent structure, allowing them to feel more at home while deployed.
"It shows that the Army has come a long way from the tent structure to a more permanent one. I appreciate their hard work and dedication to make sure that we live comfortable. If I could give them a raise I would," said Army Staff Sgt. Clarence A. Williams, TF Spartan supply sergeant, who just recently moved into a B-hut built by the 585th Eng. Co.
After the completion of their mission at JAF, the squad is looking to return to FOB Sharana.
Afterwards, they will most likely be sent elsewhere, continuing to assist in build-up missions. Thanks to the combat engineers and their dedication to their mission, Spartan Soldiers at JAF already enjoy better living conditions and a vastly improved quality of life.