While the changing leaves and falling acorns may mean a change to the fall season, there is one season that is constant on Fort Bragg these days … construction season! And while most of the road work is contracted by the Department of Public Works, the 20th Engineer Brigade often finds opportunities to improve the quality of life for others, Soldiers and civilians alike.
As part of a training exercise that had Castle Soldiers building projects at seven different installations last week, Soldiers of the 20th Engineer Bde. constructed several trails on Fort Bragg to enhance unit safety during physical fitness and readiness training and to mitigate the loss of access to run routes on Ardennes.
The first trail was created for the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade to conduct daily physical fitness and provide a 1.2 mile trail for the Army Physical Fitness Test running event. Twelve Soldiers from 92nd Engineer Battalion, 20th Engineer Bde., traveled from Fort Stewart, Georgia on Oct. 11 to execute the project.
They fell in on equipment from 27th Engineer Battalion, a sister battalion at Fort Bragg, and worked tirelessly to create the trail in about a week. The noncommissioned officer in charge of the team, Sgt. Bryan Taylor said the project was important because, before the creation of the trail, Soldiers were conducting physical training on the side of the road.
He said, “It is good to get people off the road. When we first came to look at the location, people were running all over the road and traffic was not slowing down. It was dangerous.”
The road allows Federal Emergency Management Agency and other emergency services access to Simmons Army Airfield, so it cannot be shut down at any time. The new development provides a location that protects Soldiers from traffic and enhances their ability to conduct regular physical fitness.
The Castle Brigade didn’t stop there. The 27th Engineer Bn. is wrapping up construction on the Engineer Trail on Smoke Bomb Hill which will be dedicated in honor of Retired Staff Sgt. Adam Keys on Nov. 9.
Keys is a triple amputee who was wounded in Afghanistan while assigned to the 618th Engineer Support Command (Airborne), 20th Engineer Bde. Adam will join the brigade for an inaugural run through of the trail.
The Vertical Platoon of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 27th Engineer Bn. and Soldiers of 161st Engineer Support Company, 27th Engineer Bn. have been working tirelessly on upgrading the trail for the last year. Not only have they extended it to 2.2 miles, they have moved parts of the trail so it does not interfere with the roads and therefore, traffic.
With the addition of six obstacles, the trail, currently used by most units on Smoke Bomb Hill, has transformed into a functional fitness highway.
Located at the entrance of 1SG Rafferty Field off of Kedenburg Road, the route is a complete circle of challenging terrain and goes from 8-feet wide to 2-feet wide on a winding path through the woods and over multiple creeks. It definitely provides an adventurous morning run.
In addition to improving the installation, these projects provide significant training value as the 92nd Engineer Battalion and the Brigade Headquarters prepare to deploy in mid-2018, where they will manage and execute major construction projects overseas.