|Story & photo by Spc. Christopher Hernandez, 345th
Public Affairs Detachment
The 420th Engineer Brigade initiated full-scale training operations and
engineering projects in support of Operation Essayons, which was
conducted at Fort McCoy, from June 4-18.
Soldiers from the 955th Engineer
Company develop a berm on the Archery Range at Sportsman’s Range
at Fort McCoy. The Soldiers were participating in Operation
Operation Essayons had two primary objectives — to supplement various
ongoing construction projects at Fort McCoy and to provide Soldiers with
the opportunities and resources to train and implement their skill sets
into their construction assignments.
“This is the Soldiers’ opportunity to practice everything they learned,”
said Lt. Col. Brett Crawley, the commanding officer of the command and
control cell for Operation Essayons. “It is validation for them that
they have been training, they can perform their jobs, function as a
team, and accomplish the mission. They also will leave Fort McCoy with
pride and the knowledge they are ready.”
Allocation of the troop projects was distributed evenly between the
365th and 926th Engineer Battalions, both of which are aligned to the
420th Engineer Brigade. The missions included berm development at
Sportsman’s Range, construction of sand volleyball courts, a trail
improvement project, asphalt application on three training site parking
lots, construction of concrete aprons for three Young Assault Air Strip
hangars and construction of two huts for the Southwest Asia training
The training exercise signified the first time the 365th and 926th
Engineer Battalions operated in tandem to meet their mission objectives.
In addition to the dual-engineer-battalion collaboration, other support
detachments actively engaged in the training mission by lending
forward-support services, medical staff and resources, quartermaster
supply and public affairs representatives.
Senior enlisted personnel and officers from both engineer battalions
shared the expectation of mentorship of newer Soldiers by their
“The entire operation is about training everyone in the unit in their
specific military occupational specialties,” said 1st Sgt. Thomas
Blahowiak, the first sergeant of the 372nd Engineer Company.
“Additionally, it is imperative that my first-line supervisors and squad
leaders are able to perform their duties and mentor junior Soldiers.”
To ensure the safety of troops and other embedded personnel working on
these projects, 15 additional-duty safety officers were dispatched to
each project site, he said.
Larry J. Morrow, the Troop Projects coordinator at Fort McCoy’s
Directorate of Public Works, provided overall guidance and coordination
for all Operation Essayons troop projects, and provided the schematics
of the project sites, and the necessary construction materials.
“The troops surpassed all goals we had set for the projects,” Morrow
said. “Essayons was a total success for both the troops and for Fort
Among the training opportunities were electrical training in a building
scheduled for demolition and placing 1,865 tons of asphalt on range
parking lots. Morrow said the Equipment Concentration Site-67 at Fort
McCoy provided three asphalt pavers to support the exercise.
Nearly 1,000 Soldiers participated in Operation Essayons.