Va. National Guard engineers assist Henry County economic development project

Soldiers from the Powhatan-based 180th Engineer Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, 91st Troop Command move dirt on an approximate 15 acre pad to prepare it for future business development in the Patriot Centre Industrial Park June 5, 2014, in Henry County, Va. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Soldiers from the Powhatan-based 180th Engineer Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, 91st Troop Command move dirt on an approximate 15 acre pad to prepare it for future business development in the Patriot Centre Industrial Park June 5, 2014, in Henry County, Va. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Virginia National Guard Soldiers are putting their engineering skills to work to help with an economic development project in Henry County, Va., during their annual training that began May 31, 2014.

More than 120 Soldiers from the Powhatan-based 180th Engineer Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, 91st Troop Command will work to prepare an approximate 15 acre pad for future business development in the Patriot Centre Industrial Park, explained Capt. Jesse Kopczynski, commander of the 180th. The Soldiers are scheduled to conduct clearing, grubbing and debris removal on the pad and roadway. Once the debris is removed, they will continue with cut, fill and compaction operations.

“This is a really good opportunity for this company, it is a good opportunity for the Soldiers, and I think it is a great benefit to Henry County,” Kopczynski said. “These Soldiers really love giving back to their fellow Virginians.”

The National Guard engineers have 116 different pieces of equipment on the ground for the mission, including 84 piece of heavy engineer equipment and 32 pieces of support equipment, Kopczynski said. He said it is the first time he has ever had all of the company’s assigned equipment deployed and engaged with a mission in Virginia.

Henry County requested support from the Virginia National Guard through National Guard Bureau’s Innovative Readiness Training project to provide engineering construction operations, personnel and equipment support at no cost to the county to further the construction and development of the Patriot Centre Industrial Park.

“This is a classic win-win situation,” said Henry County Administrator Tim Hall. “The National Guard gets training opportunities and it gives us a site we can market and try to put folks to work. The Guard has been terrific to work with, they are good at what they do and we trust them.”

The Soldiers from the 180th will conduct their two-week annual training on the site, then turn the operation over to the Cedar Bluff-based 1033rd Engineer Support Company for another two weeks of work.

“The great thing about this training opportunity is that it allows me to see the pride my Soldiers take in actually performing tasks that are training them on their equipment but also part of a larger project they can see through to completion,” said Staff Sgt. Jason Chad Young, a squad leader in 3rd Platoon of the 180th. “You can see the joy they are taking the work they are doing and the pride that develops in them as they see their work fall into place that will be of benefit to other people instead of just training.”

Innovative Readiness Training provides real world training opportunities for Soldiers and units to prepare them for their wartime and domestic missions while supporting the needs of America’s communities. For more information, visit http://irt.defense.gov.

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