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South Dakota National Guard, Danish soldiers help local communities during Golden Coyote 17

By Sgt. Rachel M Korzeniewski June 20, 2017

REVA, S.D. -- South Dakota Army National Guard Soldiers of the 842nd Engineer Company and Danish Army engineers spent their annual June training working with the National Forest Service to restore 4.5 miles of JB Pass Road in Custer Gallatin National Forest.

The project was an opportunity for the Soldiers to hone their engineering skills while providing a service to the local community.

"The Golden Coyote training exercise allows us to mobilize into the field and ensure we have the ability to sustain ourselves while training in a tactical environment," said Sgt. 1st Class Josh Guthmiller, operations sergeant and readiness NCO for the 842nd Engineer Company.

The road project involved grading, scraping, dozing, cleaning and reconstructing culverts, along with the installation of cattle guards. The project also gave Soldiers a realistic feel for what a deployed environment would be like.

"The terrain here is very similar to Afghanistan," said Staff Sgt. John Butt, first platoon sergeant. "We are also working with limited equipment and materials, just like if we were deployed. This is good training for us to learn to adapt and overcome those obstacles."

Working together, the Americans and Danes were able to see how each country team approached the same project.

"Having Danish Soldiers integrated into our platoons gives us another perspective on how similar projects could be completed," said Guthmiller. "It teaches our Soldiers how to communicate and see that there is more than one correct way to complete an engineering project."

The Danish Soldiers were happy to be a part of a project that will benefit the American people.

"Working on a community project with the Americans is great," said Andreas Michaelsen, Danish Army engineer. "We have a feeling of purpose to know the hard work we are doing is going to make a long- lasting difference within the community."

The JB Pass road project is one of many projects the Army National Guard is working on with the National Forest Service.

"Having the partnership with the National Guard is important," said Kurt Hansen, district ranger, Sioux Ranger District of Custer Gallatin National Forest. "The project benefits the Soldiers for training and allows the local community to maintain access to this part of the forest."

The project will help the road last for many years to come and will allow maintenance dollars to go to other vital projects.

"Our Soldiers take pride in constructing a lasting project," said Guthmiller. "They will be able to bring their families here and show them what they built."

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