Camp Walker troops to wait out renovations in 'swing space' style
TAEGU, South Korea — Sometimes, even taking a shower is a challenge in aging Barracks 309.
The building, on the Army’s Camp Walker, is home to roughly 120 troops, mostly of the 36th Signal Battalion.
The decades-old building suffers from a host of problems — plumbing, sewage, wiring, bad walls, and washers and dryers that break down.
So the troops are glad the Army will start a yearlong fix-up of 309 sometime this fall.
“They’re just run down. You got your holes in the wall, of course,” said Pvt. Daniel Bregaglio, a personnel clerk with Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 36th Signal Battalion. “I heard they were built around 1963, so we’re talking about some pretty old barracks.
“And of course, some of the showers don’t have exactly the best pressure in them. We’ve got two of them that everybody kind of waits in line, certain showers,” he added, because “it comes out a little bit, a little more pressure — you can actually get the soap off.”
To house them in the interim, the Army is building three temporary barracks the troops think will be much nicer and more private than 309.
Known as a “swing space,” each building will be three stories, made of steel storage containers welded together and house up to 153 troops, three to a room, said Harry H. Kye of the Army’s Corps of Engineers in Taegu. The project will cost about $2.5 million, he said.
“It’s easy to build and easy to disassemble,” compared to steel and concrete permanent structures, Kye added.
Each container measures 40 feet long, 16 feet wide and 9.5 feet high and will be furnished with a television, a desk for each soldier, a footlocker, bed, kitchenette and a private bathroom with bathtub. The plywood floors will feature vinyl tiling. Windows, an outdoor balcony on each floor and a laundry room in each building are also planned.
“Our soldiers, they’ll be living in nice quarters, much better than what they moved out of,” said Lt. Col. Joe Cunningham, the 36th Signal Battalion’s commanding officer. “That’s a win situation. They’ve been waiting for it for a while.”
“I actually looked at some of the floor plans, and they seem like they’re quite nice,” said Bregaglio. “You have your own bathroom, and that’s the great thing. [Soldiers will be] actually able to shower without a lot of people around you. You have a little privacy, and they’re better than what we have right now. It can’t get no worse.”
Pfc. Wilmer Roman of the battalion’s 169th Signal Company likes it, too.
“You’ve got a lot more privacy being three people to a bathroom,” said Roman, a communications clerk. “That’s a plus right there. At times, it gets a little crowded in the latrines. I’m kind of eager to make the switch.”