By Army 1st Lt. Michael Bauman
Special to American Forces Press Service
July 9, 2009 - A San Antonio-based Army Reserve unit is getting much praise for its road improvements around Baghdad. The "Dirt Devils" of the 277th Engineer Company have wrapped up resurfacing and upgrades to the roadways north of Western Bypass Road connecting Camp Liberty and Camp Victory here.
The Soldiers worked to keep the road serviceable so it can continue to relieve congestion from smaller roads traveling through Strawberry Hill Road.
Soldiers of the 277th realize their work will assist with transporting various assets and resources.
"Local civilians and local soldiers are stopping and thanking us for the road construction," said San Antonio native Army Staff Sgt. George Velez, assigned to the 277th Engineer Company and attached to the 46th Engineer Combat Battalion, 225th Engineer Brigade. "In our eyes, this feels like a success, with hearing the gratitude from fellow soldiers."
Engineers smoothed out the road, section by section, for three weeks. The project was completed July 6. One of the challenges was completing the project without disrupting the regular traffic flow.
"We received a large amount of traffic flowing through and have a lot of people thanking us for our support in this effort," said Army Sgt. Augustine Deluna, a heavy-equipment operator who also is from San Antonio.
Fuel, water and supply trucks, military security vehicles and standard sport utility vehicles on the busy road kept the soldiers aware of the urgency and productivity the project offered. The work was fast-paced, but was conducted safely. Soldiers had to communicate to understand their roles and responsibilities in the project. Velez and Deluna gave instructions and expectations to their heavy-equipment operators, Velez said, because the project required constant evaluation.
"Soldiers switch out from one heavy-equipment vehicle to another to loosen the ground, then compact it with foundation made up of limestone and river rock," Army Sgt. 1st Class Bifredo Barros, a platoon sergeant with 277th Engineer Company explained during the project.
After adding the foundation, the "Dirt Devils" smoothed out the road with the heavy equipment by making adjustments to flatten the earth, taking out high spots and filling in low spots.
The soldiers said they know a good foundation is the basis of a solid road, and they work to keep the road most traveled in good condition as they lay the groundwork for success at Victory Base Complex.
(Army 1st Lt. Michael Bauman serves in Multinational Division Baghdad with the 46th Engineer Combat Battalion, 225th Engineer Brigade.)