Engineers’ improvements have made popular road more drivable for all
Story and Photo by
1st Lt. Patrick Ripton
523rd Engineer Company, 84th Eng. Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command
WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD — Soldiers from the 523rd Engineer Company, “Gravediggers,” 84th Eng. Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, completed work on Softball Field Road, here, Nov. 24.
The Gravediggers improved the well-traveled road, which serves military personnel and their families.
The road is a popular shortcut for Soldiers who use the airfield for morning physical training and a necessary route for families using the softball fields. The road services seven softball fields, which are used for a diverse collection of activities, including the Special Olympics softball tournament held earlier this year.
The road is also the only way to get to Wheeler’s popular paintball field.
“We definitely noticed the impact our construction had on the community,” said Staff Sgt. Brian Jewett, noncommissioned officer in charge of the project, 523rd Eng. Co., 84th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde. “We just hope there is a positive impact, as well, now that the road is more drivable.”
Project improvements, commissioned by U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii’s Directorate of Public Works, are saving motorists from numerous potholes and providing better durability. Further, the construction served as an invaluable training exercise for 523rd Eng. Co. equipment operators.
Projects like this provide a unique synergy for 84th Eng. Bn. construction companies and organizations that request their services. Employing organizations benefit from immense cost savings, and military construction units receive the opportunity to develop skills in a real construction environment, with accountability and deadlines.
“It was a great chance to improve our skills,” said Spc. Michael Charlton, a heavy equipment operator with 523rd Eng. Co., 84th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde.
The platoon put in more than 600 man-hours into the project, pulling up the old road and laying and compacting new material.
One of the unique challenges the project posed was movement of all the necessary material needed in constructing the new surface. Soldiers traveled nonstop for the duration of the project — between the Makakilo Quarry and here — transporting more than 1,600 tons of gravel.
Once on-site, experienced and inexperienced Soldiers laid, shaped and compacted the material, creating a durable surface by deadline. Situational training was added to the construction project, allowing Soldiers to operate machinery, as they might have to while in dangerous conditions.
The project served as a train-up for selected Soldiers, who will travel to New Mexico in January, for the second phase of a road construction project along the U.S. and Mexico border. That mission will provide support for U.S. Border Patrol in its effort to control illegal operations across the border.