From the Frontlines: Wrapping up a good job

This is an article Pat wrote detailing the success the soldiers of the 225th Engineer Brigade have had in both helping to rebuild Iraq and teaching Iraqi engineers.

Louisiana Engineers close out successful tour

By Lt. Col. Pat Simon Louisiana National Guard, 225th Eng. Bde. PAO

BAGHDAD - "We Build the World" is not just some catchy phrase for the 225th Engineer Brigade; it's a way of life.

Engineer troops from Louisiana spent the last ten months racking up a long list of milestones in support of the 1st Cavalry Division during Operation Iraqi Freedom not only helping improve the lives of Iraqi people, but also building a strong and lasting partnership with Iraqi Soldiers.

The mission of the 225th came at a time of historic change: the U.S. / Iraqi Security Agreement deadline of June 30th to withdraw American combat troops from Iraqi cities.

U.S. engineers helped protect the people of Baghdad by providing mobility, stability, partnership and civil capacity.  They cleared routes of improvised explosive devices, assisted in protecting Soldiers and enhancing their quality of life with general engineering, worked with local leaders on water, sewer, and electrical projects and partnered closely with and trained Iraqi Army engineer counterparts. 

"Our diligent and persistent efforts through partnership greatly contribute towards a vibrant and independent Iraq," said Brig. Gen. Owen Monconduit, commander of the 225th Eng. Bde.  "Our efforts will create lasting stability, peace and continued development of the Iraqi civil capacity."

BAGHDAD – Louisiana-based 225th Engineer Brigade Soldiers remove Hesco barriers, May 2009, at Combat Outpost 102 in the Rusafa district of Baghdad. The COP was one of the many that were shut down leading up to the historic Security Agreement deadline for U.S. combat Soldiers to leave the major cities of Iraq. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Rebekah Malone, 225 Eng Bde PAO, MND-B)

Solar lights were added to once darkened streets. Playgrounds and soccer fields developed out of land that once was covered with heaps of trash and debris. Soldiers built sniper screens and guard towers on base camps, designing B-huts, dining and morale, welfare, and recreation facilities, firing ranges and force protection for soldier housing units. The engineer soldiers surveyed, upgraded and resurfaced roads. They held over 100 successful meetings with government officials which led the way to dozens of public works projects including one that provided potable water to 500,000 people in the Sadr City area. And they trained legions of Iraqi engineers to safely clear routes to protect the streets of Baghdad.

BAGHDAD – Spc. Eric Bones (center), from Pipestone, Minn., assists an Iraqi Soldier with B-hut construction during one of many partnership efforts between U.S. and Iraqi forces. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Rebekah Malone, 225 Eng Bde PAO, MND-B)

"The success of the 225th Engineer Brigade during this deployment is because of our great Soldiers," noted Command Sgt. Maj. Joe Major. "They are outstanding soldiers who have accomplished all of the missions assigned."

BAGHDAD –Louisiana-based 225th Engineer Brigade Soldiers show their humanitarian side, April 2009, at Um Araybia School by handing out school supplies to Iraqi children. The supplies were donated by citizens from Louisiana. (U.S. Army photo by Lt. Col. Pat Simon, 225 Eng Bde PAO, MND-B)

Soldiers with the 225th also gave from their hearts by helping drop off school supplies to Iraqi children and schools in need. They also transported wheelchairs donated by American companies to disabled Iraqi citizens, mostly children. One of their surgeons, Maj. Frederick Hall, an ophthalmologist, even made a critical, life-saving diagnosis on a seven month old boy.

In just a few days, the 225th's engineering mission will end in Baghdad, Iraq.

Each member can proudly say they not only helped build the world, they also will leave behind a strong foundation of partnership and friendship with their Iraqi counterparts that will last for years to come.