‘50-Boat’ builds bridges where there are none Print E-mail
Thursday, 13 November 2014
 
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Soldiers with 50th Multi Role Bridge Company prepare to deploy a raft component into the Missouri River, while the boat crew works to connect a Raft Improved Ribbon Bridge System during a training exercise to familiarize new Soldiers on moving water operations on the Missouri River at the National Guard Ike Skelton Training Site in Jefferson City, Missouri, Nov. 6.
Story and photo by Staff Sgt. Kelly Malone
4th MEB Public Affairs

A sergeant yells “Turn it.” Another coaches his Soldiers, “Come here high-speed, keep rocking those dollies.” More leaders compete with the bubbling current of the water while calling out “Steady,” “Heave!” and “You got it!”

Perhaps the four words that rang out the loudest at the Ike Skelton Training Site in Jefferson City, Missouri, were “Help each other out.”

Teamwork was the buzzword as the Fort Leonard Wood-based 50th Multi Role Bridge Company — part of the 5th Engineer Battalion, 4th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade — trained on the fast-moving Missouri River, Nov. 3 through 6, by building a raft, more specifically, an improved ribbon bridge.

An improved ribbon bridge is a series of connected components to allow movement across a waterway.

“We want to reinforce our expeditionary mindset,” said Capt. Matvey Vikhrov, commander of 50th MRBC or ‘50-Boat’ as it’s known by many Soldiers. “So we convoyed to Ike Skelton, then we established our base camp with our whole operation outdoors. The battalion’s Field Support Company provided cooks for us; everything we are doing is to train in an expeditionary mode, which is more realistic.”

The company’s objective was to train Soldiers who recently completed Advanced Individual Training, the schooling Soldiers receive immediately after completing basic training, in rafting and boating operations  on movingwater.

“At Fort Leonard Wood, we do rafting (operations), but it’s not realistic because the training area is a body of standing water,” Vikhrov said. “Today, the water current velocity in the Missouri River is about four to five feet per second, and operating the boat in the moving water is a different game than in standing water, it requires more training.”

Vikhrov cited the turnover in his unit, as numerous new Soldiers have joined the ranks of the 50th MRBC since their last training in moving water, about 18 months ago.

One of those new Soldiers was Pvt. Jennifer Goff, bridge crew member, who says she was only at the unit for a week, having recently completed One Station Unit Training at Fort Leonard Wood.

“I did bridging during basic (training) but this is my first time being on a current in a river,” Goff said. “It’s different on the ponds back at Fort Leonard Wood, so this is a real  experience.”

One experienced noncommissioned officer — Sgt. Jonathan Quinn, team leader for 50th MRBC — supported the unit’s objective of training new Soldiers.

Quinn’s leadership impacted Pfc. Summer Koenig, a “green” bridging Soldier.

“We were having a hard time because the ramp wasn’t level with the bay,” Koenig said. “Sgt. Quinn helped us a lot, and he showed us pretty much  everything.”

Once the raft was completely connected, Quinn held an after-action report with his team of new Soldiers.

“With ramps, we’re going to encounter small problems, but one thing we learned today is if we keep working as a team, working hard, we’re going to get this thing put together and we’re going to accomplish our mission and that’s the most important thing,” Quinn said.
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 26 November 2014 )