439th Engineer Battalion
Soldiers doing hands-on training at Fort McCoy laid the groundwork to enhance future training opportunities for military personnel at the installation. About 800 engineer soldiers were at Fort McCoy from June 16 to 29, 2001, to do Installation Related Construction (IRC) troop projects. The 439th Engineer Battalion of Bismarck, ND, provided the command and control for the units. Among the major projects begun were the clearing, grubbing and survey work for the East Maneuver Road, renovating several buildings and building several new training aids, such as the new Parade Review Stand and range buildings. Work on the projects continued during an annual training session from July 21 to Aug. 3.
The training is assigned by the US Army Reserve Command to improve its installations. The soldiers get a lot of hands-on experience with the equipment and doing different projects. They're doing what they were trained to do and getting better at it. Other units involved in the training were the 952nd Engineer Company of Paris, Texas; the 416th Engineer Command of Darien, Ill. and several members of the 348th Engineer Detachment of Houston, Texas augmented the 952nd.
The 439th Engineer Battalion is a command and control headquarters. As of May 2003 it had 33 soldiers in Baghdad and 6 still in Kuwait. It also had two combat engineer companies assigned to us right now in Baghdad.
The 439th Engineer Battalion left Colorado on the 8th of April 2003 and flew to Germany. After spending a few hours in Germany, they then flew to Kuwait. They landed at 2 AM and then began getting ready to move to our camp, and finally got to our camp at about 10 PM. This was Camp New York. They were there for about a week during which time there was a large sand storm one day. There were about 10 showers for 700 soldiers and we lived in tents. There was no running water and the temperature was hot.
They then moved to Camp Virginia that is also in Kuwait. Now they had ten showers for 2000 soldiers and were still living in tents and had no running water. They had a mission to help other soldiers who were coming into Kuwait so that they would be ready to move in Iraq. They were still doing that mission but on approximately 24 April 2003 they were told to get ready to move to Baghdad to assume command and control of engineering assets in one of the sectors in Baghdad.
On 26 April 2003, three of Battalion staff departed to Baghdad by Chinook Helicopter. At the same time, the rest of the Headquarters was preparing to convoy from Kuwait to Baghdad, over 350 miles. The convoy left on 28 April and it took two days to get to Baghdad. Along the way, the convoy helped a convoy from a charity group by providing protection and other support.
The mission is to help provide protection for other soldiers and to try to make their living conditions better. They also have the two engineering companies that work taking care of removing bombs and mines that can hurt people. Additionally, the 439th tracks and reports the condition of civilian infrastructure to include power, water, sewer, school status, medical clinic status and other locations as required so that they can be fixed. They work for the 3rd Infantry Division and the 101 Airborne Division.
In August 2003 the 439th Engineer Battalion restored electrical instruments and sewer lines, water lines, irrigation lines, and cleaned up many bombs that were found in the area. The Al Jaderia Irrigation pumping station which provides a constant supply of water to the agricultural communities of Southwestern Baghdad was restarted 05 August 2003. The station provides irrigation water needed by local farmers and communities to reservoirs located near the Baghdad International Airport. The work was done with Iraqi materials and by Iraqi engineers and laborers. Soldiers from the 1st Armored Division's 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment and 16th Engineer Battalion, using funds provided by the division, worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Al Macaa General Contracting company to repair the station's pumps, electrical equipment, sewer, water and irrigation lines. The main purpose of the station is to feed all major water reservoirs surrounding BIAP through three water mains. Two of these water mains are badly damaged. Many were damaged by local residents tapping into the pipes attempting to get water.
The 439th Engineer Battalion also had finished repairing a compound for the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, (their equivalent of the National Guard). They work with many Iraqi contractors and vendors who are employed by the Army to help rebuild this country. By late September 2003 the dining facility had opened. As a result, all of the soldiers can now have a hot breakfast, and a hot supper. Depending on the missions, a lot of days the soldiers actually get three hot meals.
As of October 2003 the 439th Engineer Battalion was working on the construction of Camp Falcon. The Engineers had refurbished a number of buildings within the compound and added a force protection wall on the west side of the compound. They delivered over 100,000 tons of gravel for the roads, and were assisting with building the roads, walls, guard towers, and buildings for the Camp. Six new barracks were approximately 40% done and the Engineers had started paving some new roads leading into the camp and also within the camp. The internet cafes had opened so the soldiers now have a more reliable connection to the rest of the world and the families. Unfortunately, the telephone service the soldiers had been using had degraded badly. The Engineers were working on the construction of the Camp Falcon permanent Forward Operating Base (FOB). It was still a few of months until the soldiers would have real barracks with real beds and mattresses, but the buildings were going up. Other projects in the area of water and sewer are also continuing and the Engineers were doing additional work on the compound for the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps.
In November 2003 the 439th was asked to help in the planning and construction of a 10,000 soldier base camp near Baghdad. They have also started work on fixing parts of the local oil refinery. Our first project there is getting the asphalt plant operational. There is a shortage of asphalt in Iraq so this should help a lot.
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