103rd Engineer Company inactivates Print E-mail
Wednesday, 12 February 2014
Soldiers assigned to the 103rd Engineer Company and 94th Engineer Battalion tie down a heavy-duty-tractor trailer onto a rail car. The truck, along with 91 other pieces of equipment, are headed to the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kan., to be reutilized due to the 103rd Eng. Co., 94th Eng. Bn., 4th MEB, 1st ID inactivation. Photo by Sgt. Kelly Malone, 4th MEB Public Affairs Office
By Staff Sgt. Mark Patton
Special to GUIDON

Although the Fort Leonard Wood-based 103rd Engineer Company officially inactivated last month, the achievements of the “First Strike” Soldiers are bound to reverberate through the Army for many years.

One of those achievements was a recent 103rd Eng. Co., 94th Engineer Battalion-led operation, dubbed “Operation Viper Express,” where 92 vehicles and containers were successfully loaded and secured onto rail cars bound for Fort Riley, Kan. The rail load operation was conducted to transfer engineer and wheeled equipment to other 1st Infantry Division units prior to the 103rd’s inactivation.
The 103rd Eng. Co., a horizontal engineer unit, was part of the 94th Eng. Bn., 4th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, 1st Inf. Div.

It was the first load-out at Fort Leonard Wood of any size in the past two years, according to Herb Hiatt, motor transport officer and supervisory traffic management specialist.

As the efforts of many Army units have been focused on Southwest Asia over the past decade, railway operations are a skill that some Soldiers haven’t had the chance to plan and conduct as much as they have in the past.

“It was a phenomenal exercise to increase readiness throughout our force, not just inactivate the company,” said Lt. Col. Samuel Volkman, commander, 94th Eng. Bn. “If we deploy to a non-mature theater where you need to take your home station organic equipment, we’ve got to be able to do that.”

1st Lt. Anthony White, executive officer for the 103rd Eng. Co., said one of the biggest challenges to the rail load operation was keeping information synced and ensuring everyone was on the same page while working with other units and civilian counterparts.

Maj. Frank Tedeschi, executive officer for the 94th Eng. Bn., credited extensive planning and rehearsals, among other meticulous tasks, for maximizing efficiency of the operation and allowing the mission to be completed in less time than expected and with no accidents or injuries.

“You have to use a pencil when you do something like this,” Tedeschi quipped, citing the more than 100 revisions of the equipment list alone.

Despite the bitter-cold temperatures, which plagued the Missouri Ozarks during much of January, the Soldiers were able to complete the mission quicker than planned.

“We had four days to do it, I imagined it would take two and a half, and we ended up doing it in one and a morning, and that was it,” said Capt. Robert Middleton, 103rd Eng. Co. commander.

For the 103rd, the recent railway operations are just the last in a string of successes over the past few months.

The company just recently came off its Defense Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Response Force mission in October and just last September, the 103rd Eng. Co. completed construction of a new flight landing strip at Fort Riley.

 Then, the Soldiers had to transfer their equipment and inactivate.

“I don’t know how many other units can accomplish all these things in four months,” White said.

And if that’s not enough, Soldiers still had to train and prepare.

“Just because you’re inactivating, training doesn’t stop, so that just tells you the dedication that these guys have . . . to be able to inactivate the company and how huge that is and to continue to train to the Army standards,” said White.

As the colors were cased, Middleton was thinking how the Soldiers from his company would go on and pass the knowledge they gained.

“It is sad to inactivate such a great unit, but the Army changes and these Soldiers will go on to other units and do great things with what they learned here.”

(Editor’s note: Patton is assigned to the 4th MEB Public Affairs Office.)
Last Updated ( Thursday, 27 February 2014 )