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NEWS | Aug. 22, 2012

Germany: New York Army Guard engineers lay groundwork for improved training areas in Hohenfels

By Spc. Rachel Sanzo New York National Guard

HOHENFELS, Germany - The crunch of ten-ton vehicles on gravel and the din of voices over radio calls can be heard as Soldiers from the New York Army National Guard's 827th and 152nd Engineer Companies work on a variety of construction projects at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC) here.

"Our mission here in Hohenels is to aid in TCPs (Troop Construction Projects) in order to improve the realism of training areas for Soldiers participating in overseas deployment training," said Army Capt. Chad Clark, commander of the 827th Eng. Co.

At the JMRC in Hohenfels, units conduct pre-deployment training in training areas that are designed to mirror the setting and culture of Soldiers' deployment destinations. Features of the center include a helicopter landing zone to transport Soldiers to and from training areas within Hohenfels, realistic villages occupied by experienced actors role playing as local citizens, and various other logistical facilities.

One of the goals of the two engineer companies throughout the duration of their training involves building upon the site's pre-existing helicopter landing zone. The Soldiers will work to raise the elevation of the landing zone by roughly 10 feet, in accordance with training needs.

Additionally, Soldiers from the units are scheduled to lay foundations for logistical facilities that future units training here will build upon and integrate into upcoming training missions.

"All of our projects are supporting units who will deploy," Clark said. "We're creating buildings for them to utilize, and improving the landing pad that they will utilize during their (pre-deployment) training."

Although the members of the two engineer companies will only remain in Hohenfels for a few weeks, the projects they are undertaking are ongoing and will involve many more hours of manpower before they are completed.

"The work we're doing here is laying the footprint so future units that come in will have a good idea of the work that we've done, and the work that still needs to be done," said Army 1st Lt. John Scott, the officer in charge of construction with the 827th Eng. Co.

According to Scott, the progress on the landing zone and logistical facilities should be 33 percent complete by the time the engineer companies depart Hohenfels, thanks to the work of the current engineers on site and those who came before them.

"Our sponsors and advisors have been ecstatic with the work we've done," said Clark. "They say that we've really embraced the concept of this pad. And as for our guys, they've jumped right in and have made great strides in getting it to where we want it to be."

When it comes time for the engineer Soldiers to depart Hohenfels and head back home, many in the unit said they will definitely remember their time in Germany.

"It's definitely been a plus to be doing our annual training away from the drill shed floor at home," said Army Pvt. Jean Thompson, an equipment specialist with the 827th Eng. Co. "But we, like many other units that will come in after us, are just here to chip in a little bit until the project is done."