Battalion extends range with found tower
Stars and Stripes June 8, 2003
BAGHDAD, Iraq — When the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division found its radio range limited, troops from the 16th Engineer Battalion set to work building a taller tower.
But first they had to find one to build.
Troops from Company C’s assault and obstacle platoon, normally trained to breach enemy obstacles, began to scrounge around their camp, a rundown resort along the Tigris River in Baghdad’s North End. In a parking lot among debris, they found their prize — a 90-foot radio tower.
The soldier’s dismantled the tower and trucked it to 1st Brigade headquarters at the Martyr’s Monument, said 1st Lt. Andrew Bichoff, 24, of Port Jervis, N.Y. Despite their training for combat missions, the platoon tackled the construction mission with relative ease, he said.
“The Army is the only organization where you can take any platoon, give them a mission, and they execute to standard, regardless of the level of training in that area,” Bischoff said.
By sunset Tuesday, the engineers had reassembled the behemoth tower with the help from mechanics who knew how to weld. Brigade communication specialists wired four FM antennas to the top, said Sgt. Deandre Favors, 24, of Detroit.
“This antenna will enable us to double our range and talk to all units around 1st AD’s area, for about 25 miles,” Favors said. “It’s really a monster. We may even go farther with a tower like this.”
As the last of the sun’s rays winked above the horizon, the engineers put their shoulders to work stabilizing the tower as a truck began hoisting it into position. As they worked they shouted out Red Hot Chili Peppers songs and the Ramones’ “I Want To Be Sedated.”
“Maybe we can get the sports channel on this, so I can watch the Red Sox beat the Yankees,” joked Pfc. Shawn Ivey, 19, of Cambridge, Mass.
Within a few hours, and well after dark, the engineers lay on their backs staring up at their handy work, towering nearly as tall as the monument’s blue teardrop shells.
Spc. Paul Kindzieski, 25, of Chicago, who helped locate the tower, haul it to the headquarters and hoist it into place with his truck, was in high spirits. The combat engineer’s bible, field manual 5-34, shows mathematical diagrams to properly secure such structures, he said.
“It’s actually part of our job, no glamour story,” Kindzieski said. “Just another day’s work.”