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NEWS | Sept. 23, 2020

Georgia Guard Soldiers get ‘stick time’ removing foundation

By Lori Egan Georgia National Guard

FORT BENNING, Ga. – Georgia Army National Guard Soldiers spent nearly 10 days here as part of a joint project, giving Soldiers “stick time” on the heavy equipment that is part of their trade while reducing the installation’s footprint.

“It’s good for us,” said Staff Sgt. Westley Dozier, a horizontal equipment operator with the 878th Engineer Battalion out of Augusta and the project’s noncommissioned officer in charge. “It gets a lot of guys trained up, which helps when we’re doing a hurricane mission.”

He and about 20 other Soldiers volunteered for the Benning mission, removing the concrete foundation, hauling waste, and filling and grading the land off Ingersoll Avenue on Main Post.

Last year, the installation contracted to have the building demolished, said Phil Burgess, Directorate of Public Works’ project lead.

“It had outlived its usefulness and was a safety hazard,” he said, explaining the building remained on the installation’s real property books until nothing remained, including the concrete and sub-basement. It housed the Officers’ Spouses Club at one time.

“It’s where Gen. Patton got his first star,” said 1st Sgt. Leroderick Jackson, the 878th’s officer in charge. The building couldn’t be improved; it was cheaper to take it down. “It’s a good opportunity for new Soldiers to actually train, do their job and get the training they need.”

The project is a win-win for the Guard and the garrison, Burgess said. The Guard gets training, equipment gets used and the installation is not paying for a contractor.

“(We’re) providing our servicemen with a good training opportunity,” Burgess said.

“I get great satisfaction knowing these guys are getting the opportunity to work the equipment that would otherwise be sitting in the yard,” he said. “It’s saving the government and taxpayers a lot of money. So we’re being smart about it. Thinking about benefit versus cost, and we did that here.”

Sgt. Ken Carrell, who has been in the Guard nine years, agreed that the project was useful.

“The first time I deployed, we had to learn all this stuff when we got over there (to Afghanistan in 2013),” Carrell said. “On our first deployment, we didn’t know how to use half of this stuff.

“A lot of these guys haven’t deployed, so when they do get deployed, they will already have experience with the equipment. When we get on ground, we’re ready to roll. If you don’t use a skill, you lose the skill.”

Maj. Gen. Patrick Donahoe, commanding general of the Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning, and Col. Matthew Scalia, garrison commander, stopped by the demolition site to thank the Soldiers for their work.

Donahoe said the building changed so many times it no longer had any historic value.

“What you’re doing for us is saving us (money), money we can put into other installation improvements … for improvements for our Soldiers and families. We really appreciate what you guys are doing,” Donahoe said as he gave coins to Jackson, Dozier and Carrell.



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