Va. Guard engineers complete Fort Pickett repairs worth nearly $2 million

Soldiers from the Powhatan-based 180th Engineer Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, 91st Troop Command install a road culvert June 19-20, 2013, in the Fort Pickett training area. The engineers have several road improvement projects planned as part of their two-week annual training. (Photo Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Soldiers from the Powhatan-based 180th Engineer Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, 91st Troop Command install a road culvert June 19-20, 2013, in the Fort Pickett training area. The engineers have several road improvement projects planned as part of their two-week annual training. (Photo Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

FORT PICKETT, Va. – Engineers from the Petersburg-based 276th Engineer Battalion, 91st Troop Command completed extensive road and culvert repairs along Fort Pickett’s roadways during their annual training June 15-29, 2013, completing a variety of construction projects with an estimated value of $1.8 million.

“It’s work that needed to done, on the road and culverts here on post,” said Lt. Col. Garland Goodrich, commander of the 276th Engineer Battalion. “It’s an opportunity for us to train our Soldiers and to give something back to Fort Pickett. It’s a win for both of us.”

Soldiers from the Powhatan-based 180th Horizontal Construction Company and the Cedar Bluff-based 1033rd Engineer Support Company took on replacing more than 20 culverts found under the winding roads along the northern part of Fort Pickett’s training area.

“There are a number of culverts that have fallen into ill repair that we’re basically removing and replacing with newer culverts,” said Capt. Keith Harrop, the battalion’s operations officer. “That’s requiring a lot of excavation and heavy equipment operations and that’s good training for our Soldiers, so it’s not just helping out the post, but it’s also great training for our guys.”

The culvert replacement required the engineers to first dig out and remove the old rusted and battered culverts, and then create a diversionary path for the water to move around the culvert site while the engineers cleared and readied the site for the new culvert. Then, the Soldiers used a variety of excavation equipment to dig out the culvert site, ensuring the ground was level as they layered the ditch with dirt and different-sized gravel. The gravel came from the 157th Quarry Platoon, who worked at Fort Pickett’s quarry to generate it.

Soldiers from the 1033rd Engineer Support Company, 276th Engineer Battalion prepare to install a culvert June 25, 2013 at Fort Pickett, Va. The engineers worked to improve roads and install new culverts along Fort Pickett’s roadways during their two-week annual training period. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Soldiers from the 1033rd Engineer Support Company, 276th Engineer Battalion prepare to install a culvert June 25, 2013 at Fort Pickett, Va. The engineers worked to improve roads and install new culverts along Fort Pickett’s roadways during their two-week annual training period. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Once placing the new culvert in the ditch, the engineers worked carefully to rebuild the road around the culvert. The culverts replaced by the engineers came in a variety of sizes, with the largest culvert replaced measuring 72 inches in diameter.

“This is the only time that a lot of the young Soldiers actually get to do real world missions around tractors,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Quinn, a squad leader with the 180th. “You can go to a dirt patch and dig holes all day, but that doesn’t teach them how to grade. This actually gives them a finished product to see when they’re done.”

Along with making much needed repairs to the roads of Fort Pickett, many of the Soldiers were also able to get licensed on varying pieces of engineer equipment, as well.

“Some of our equipment operators do this in the civilian life, but a lot of the Soldiers fresh out of training don’t get a lot of opportunities to run this equipment,” Goodrich said.

For those newer Soldiers with limited experience on construction sites, it also allowed them to get a first-hand look at the multi-tasking that takes place during real-world engineer operations, according to Quinn.

“This has been fantastic,” said Spc. Jeremy Gilliam, a heavy equipment operator with the 1033rd. “Normally we don’t get as much stick time, but on this one we’ve got a fantastic amount of stick time and everybody has rotated through and we’ve all gotten a lot of hands on time.”

In order to keep the equipment and engineers moving, the Forward Support Company and Headquarters Support Company provided maintenance and logistical support, serving up hot chow and fuel to keep things rolling.

“When we’re running heavy equipment to the scale that we run, things tend to have problems and our maintenance guys are great at getting that equipment up and running again,” said Harrup.

Of the unit’s successful annual training, Goodrich said, “This is what we would do in combat, we’re just doing it here at Fort Pickett.”

Soldiers from the 1033rd Engineer Support Company, 276th Engineer Battalion prepare to install a culvert June 25, 2013 at Fort Pickett, Va. The engineers worked to improve roads and install new culverts along Fort Pickett’s roadways during their two-week annual training period. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Soldiers from the 1033rd Engineer Support Company, 276th Engineer Battalion prepare to install a culvert June 25, 2013 at Fort Pickett, Va. The engineers worked to improve roads and install new culverts along Fort Pickett’s roadways during their two-week annual training period. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

More from this event:

Photos: 180th Engineer Co. Soldiers install new culverts at Fort Pickett – June 19-20, 2013

Photos: 189th Engineer Co. Soldiers train on new bridge system – June 19, 2013

Photos: Va. Guard Engineers repair and improve Fort Pickett roadways – June 25, 2013