Engineers help rebuild Iraq

By Spc. Steven J. Schneider
28th Public Affairs Detachment

LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq — Since the 84th Engineer Battalion arrived at LSA Anaconda in February, they've completed missions from building gazebos to fixing roads to constructing offices.

The battalion is made up of 800 Soldiers who swing from project to project while still pulling guard duty and other details. The Soldiers also run the gravel yard and the burn pit here.

Although the projects and duties have been numerous, Soldiers have managed the operational tempo because they enjoy the work, said Maj. Carlos Perez, battalion executive officer.

"Soldiers enjoy the work when they get to see the fruits of their labor," said Staff Sgt. Chris Borek, Co. A squad leader. "The cohesion of my squad is great. Once we hit a project site, we all work hard till we're finished and then, we wait until another project comes around."

The Soldiers enthusiasm has helped them overcome obstacles.

Perez said the Soldiers have done a fantastic job dealing with the dry, dusty environment and working with different materials than they're used to.

There are problems engineers learn to deal with when they're on deployments, such as getting unusually sized wood or working with concrete that is really wet, said Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Belt, Co. A, 2nd Platoon team leader. But they always manage to complete the mission.

"The only challenge with the job is we're not working with the best quality materials," said Spc. Rodney Freeman Jr., a carpenter from Co. A. "We just find some way to make it work."

Pfc. Stephen R. Pelan, also a carpenter from Co. A, said he came to Iraq as a private just out of advanced individual training and is constantly learning new things, such as how to build walls or lay concrete.

The Soldiers of the 84th EN Bn. have not only worked to make LSA Anaconda a better place but have also worked on a mission building prison cell's cement pads for the Central Confinement Facility in Baghdad. They also improved security by building access control points at various ammunition points captured from the enemy throughout Iraq.

Most Soldiers in the unit are just happy the work they're doing is making a difference in peoples' lives, said Sgt. Colin Mack, team leader.

The unit consists of three companies from Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, and a company from Alaska. A Reserve company, the 277th Construction Support company, and a National Guard Company, 116th Support Equipment Company, also fall under the battalion here.

Editors Note: Spc. Schneider is a member of the 28th Public Affairs Detachment from Fort Lewis, Wash. He is currently deployed to Iraq in support of the 13th Corps Support Command at LSA Anaconda.


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(LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq) - Company A, 84th Engineer Battalion Soldiers spread concrete for a gazebo here Sept. 25.

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(LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq) - Spc. Roderick Hodges, an 84th Engineer Battalion Soldier, smooths out a section of concrete near a gazebo the unit is building here.