From the Frontlines: Major accomplishments

Hi everyone from Baghdad, Iraq.

My dad recently reminded me of his service in the Army with the Occupational Forces in West Germany (1954-1957). He was assigned to the 18th Engineer Battalion (Combat). That's right, he, like me, served with an Army engineer unit. He said his battalion crest (the symbol of his unit) proudly displayed "The Trestle," signifying their expertise in building those support structures.

That brings me to a recent mission that my unit just completed, and dad, I know you read my blog, so you will enjoy the photos.

Our engineers worked with an Iraqi bridge building company to build a British-made bridge (Mabey Johnson) over the Tigris River near Taji. That is in northern Baghdad. The significance of this is that the bridge now allows our military units to convoy a shorter distance and stay out of the cities as agreed with the implementation of the Security Agreement. It is a win-win situation and in this stage of the game, winning is a very good thing.

There's other good news. We had a cool front that moved through which dropped the temperatures to a very comfortable 106. Yes, 106 is much cooler than 120! Believe it or else.

One of our battalions (46th Engineer Battalion (Combat)) finished a 15-month tour of duty in Iraq and has returned safely to their home station of Fort Polk.

BAGHDAD - Sgt. Nicholas Rogers, 46th Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy), 225th Engineer Brigade, of New Bloomfield, Pa., cuts rebar from a dilapidated building in the Ghazaliyah neighborhood of Baghdad.   (DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Edwin L. Wriston, U.S. Navy/Released)

BAGHDAD - Sgt. Ronald Headley, 46th Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy), 225th Engineer Brigade, from Fort Polk, La., gives instructions to Solders from the 9th Iraqi Army Engineer Regiment on pipe connections and fittings, while repairing a water line.  (U.S. Army photo by Capt. Michael Burgett, 9th Iraqi Army Military Transition Team)

BAGHDAD - Spc. Derek Fay, an hydraulic excavator operator (top right), sits on a seven-foot earthen berm and fills HESCO barriers, while 20-ton dump truck operators Spc. Rory Mann, 46th ECB (H), 225th Engineer Brigade, from Wasilla, Alaska and Spc. Allan Beck, of San Bernardino, Calif., unload fill dirt for the HESCOs at Combat Outpost Meade.  (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Marcos Lopez, 46th ECB (H), 225th Eng. Bde., MND-B)

BAGHDAD - Cpl. Cory Pratt, A Company, 46th Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy), a construction team member from Overland Park, Kan., lays out a wall during the expansion project at Joint Security Station Ur on the northern outskirts of Baghdad. (U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Kewanda Tate, 46th ECB (H), 225th Eng. Bde., MND-B)

BAGHDAD - Two Soldiers from the 46th Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy), 225th Engineer Brigade, conduct a dismounted patrol through Sadr City as part of Task Force Gold's security element.   (DoD photo by Tsgt Young, U.S. Air Force)

Check out their resume by the numbers:

The 46th Engineers emplaced over 8,000 meters of concrete barriers; emplaced survey control points for helipads and artillery positions; built 169 structures enclosing more square footage than that of the New Orleans Superdome.

Their electricians installed over 1.1 million feet of electrical wire and 186 electrical distribution panels - safely connecting to the Iraqi civil power grid.

In addition, the engineers built gyms, dining facilities, aid stations, helicopter landing zones, weapons ranges, entry control points, conducted route sanitation missions, and much more to enhance living conditions, and increase force protection.

The "Steel Spike" engineers sanitized a length of route equal to that between Louisiana and England; moved and shaped over 400,000 cubic meters of fill.

They did outstanding work and we are very proud to have served with them.

The 46th has big shoes to fill and that's where the 101st Engineer Battalion "The Nation's Oldest" steps in. We look forward to working together with our new Army engineer colleagues in the weeks to come before we say our final goodbyes.

Before I end, I want to once again thank all of you who have written supporting emails and messages to me. I cannot even begin to tell you how much I appreciate you.

God bless all of you and God bless the USA!