Engineers battle river, weather to open games
KELHEIM, Germany — It was a treacherous day for bridge building, but construction crews of the 168th Engr Bn conquered the swollen waters of the Danube and "Aggressor" forces poured heavy equipment over the water and into "NATO" territory — a signal that Winter Shield II was on in full force.
A rain-swollen river and tricky 11-foot-per-second current made things extra, tough for the bridge people at Saal, a village three miles east of here.
Then when the village was open to traffic, a number of vehicles became stuck on the road exiting from the bridge on the north bank of the river.
In addition to their troubles with the bridge, the engineer troops were forced to drydock an amphibious crossing raft with engine trouble.
Heavy rains and rising temperatures which melted snow produced high water and swift current. Until the rains, the engineers said the river lacked the necessary water to provide a challenging crossing.
"We've never dealt with current this strong," said 1st Lt Leroy D. Hammond, of Richmond, Va., CO of the 168th's Co C.
"A week ago we could walk 15 feet farther out into the river," Hammond said.
He said his crews had additional troubles when two boats — used to float bridge sections into place — were captured early Thursday by the "enemy."
M Sgt George W, Collins, of Dothan, Ala., who worked on his first bridges with the Army in Africa and Italy during World War II, said, "the current and water depth are giving us trouble. We're just not used to working in current this fast."
"This is a rough one today," said Pfc Jerry Yeager, of Oklahoma City, as he took a puff on a wet cigaret.
"Yeah, but it's a good job. I learned something," said Pfc Jay Alsima, of San Juan, Puerto Rico.