Volunteer annual training exceeds mission goals

Story by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

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Spc. Aaron Elliott with the 149th Vertical Construction Company smoothes the edge of a freshly poured concrete slab at the Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center in Greenville, Ky., July 22, 2014. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

GREENVILLE, Ky. — A year ago, Soldiers of the 149th Vertical Construction Company called Bagram, Afghanistan home. The engineers spent nearly a year deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom helping to teach Afghans how to rebuild their country.

Since their arrival back in the commonwealth this past December, the 149th has taken the methodical steps to reintegrate back into typical Guard life. With that in mind, leadership of the unit decided they would offer the first annual training period as a volunteer only option. They didn’t have to, but 70 Soldiers said yes and donned their ACUs and travelled to the Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center in Greenville, July 12-26.

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Spc. Adam Bailey works to smooth freshly poured concrete with a screen board during a construction project at the Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center in Greenville, Ky., July 22, 2014. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

“This sure beats Afghanistan,” said Spc. Adam Bailey. “We are doing some of the same things here we did over there, but it sure feels good to be in Kentucky.”

Bailey and other Soldiers were back in familiar territory at the training site as well. The 149th has been primarily responsible for the construction of the training site’s new Contingency Operation Location (COL). Over the years, the unit has constructed buildings, ran plumbing and wired electric to the training area. According to the project officer in charge, Chief Warrant Officer Jacob Lewis, the goal for the annual training was for the Soldiers to make several enhancements to the COL including the pouring of new concrete tent pads.

“This mission was certainly an overall success,” said Lewis. “These Soldiers exceeded the expectations by far. They were given a construction task of eight pads, they completed 12, pouring more than 144 cubic yards of concrete.”

“For an all volunteer AT after coming back from a deployment, the turnout was extraordinary,” said Lewis. “Doing a mission like this after the variety of different ones we had over there is very relevant for us. The pace was fairly steady and at times very demanding both here and abroad, but as Citizen-Soldiers, that is our duty.”

The Guardsmen are scheduled to return to Greenville on several occasions this year for more improvements to the COL as well as to assist in other construction projects for the Kentucky Guard.

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Pvt. Evan Bump is supervised using a bull float to smooth concrete during a construction project at the Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center in Greenville, Ky., July 22, 2014. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

Lewis said the unit worked extremely hard during the annual training and should be proud of the work they have continued. Moving forward, it seems to be the mutual agreement amongst the 149th that they are ready to transition back into a valuable and constant resource for the Guard and the commonwealth.

“This AT can be viewed as the newest chapter for us,” Lewis said. “We are engineers, we rise to the occasion and lead from the front.”

 

 

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