Story and Photo by
1st Lt. John Spies
561st Engineer Company, 84th Eng. Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command
NOGALES, Ariz. — The Soldiers of 1st Platoon, 561st Engineer Company, 84th Eng. Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, returned to Oahu after completing the final phase of a 3,168-foot all-weather road construction project here, June 14.
The project represents large-scale cooperation between Joint Task Force-North, or JTF-North; the U. S. Forestry Service; and the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.
The project also represents the fifth cooperation between the 561st Eng. Co. and JTF-North in support of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol’s counter-drug and transnational threat operations to reduce the availability of illegal drugs in the U.S.
The scope of the 39-day mission included emplacement of more than 70 pieces of articulating matting hinged blocks in two low-water crossings, cutting ditches along the entire length of road, and emplacing rip-rap concrete spray in the ditches for drainage control.
The mission also provided an excellent opportunity for the Soldiers of 1st Platoon to achieve proficiency on a multitude of construction equipment. With every passing week, operators gained confidence and overall production increased.
“The project allowed me to operate pretty much every piece of construction equipment on site,” said Pfc. Jerren Data, equipment operator, 1st Plt., 561st Eng. Co., 84th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde.
However, the hilly terrain proved to be a steep challenge, as the 25-ton articulating hinged-bucket dump trucks, used to haul material, had to traverse more than five miles of constant hills to reach the construction site.
“It took a few trips before I really felt comfortable operating the dump trucks,” said Spc. Robert Deatherage, equipment operator, 1st Plt., 561st Eng. Co., 84th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde. “Once I got the hang of it, my haul decreased with each pass.”
As a construction-effects battalion, the 1st Plt., 561st Eng. Co., 84th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde., provided a wide range of capabilities, from undertaking various construction projects, to supporting humanitarian assistance, to combat operations overseas.
1st Plt. will continue heavy construction, both on and off island, in the future.
The 1st Plt., 561st Eng. Co., 84th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde., will travel to the Big Island before the end of the fiscal year to complete projects at Pohakuloa.