Soldiers of 104th Engineer Company, 62nd Engineer Battalion, 36th Engineer Brigade, joined the armed forces of Liberia to build an Ebola treatment unit in Gbediah Dec. 19 during an Operation United Assistance mission. By working together, they will erect an Ebola treatment unit and maybe even some friendships.
The 104th Engineer Company arrived in Gbediah Nov. 3 and joined with their AFL partners, building a team 70-members-strong with a mission to build an ETU, said Capt. Jeremy Haywood, a native of Norfolk, Virginia.
“There have been some milestones along the way,” said Haywood. “There's always going to be [challenges], but between me and Capt. (Glee) Dada, the AFL (project) commander, we've been able to hash out those issues without causing delays.”
It has rained every other day making it difficult to work on the ETU, said Haywood, significantly delaying the horizontal, earth-work phase.
“We mitigated it by pre-fabricating all of the vertical structures so that once the horizontal aspects were finished, we were able to just to jump on site and start building,” said Haywood.
The location of the ETU is important.
“The main road where we are building the ETU leads to the major cities,” said Cpl. Dakota Scott who hails from Columbia, South Carolina. “Without this facility, [Ebola patients] wouldn't be able to get medical treatment in a timely manner. This is vital into making this mission happen and the location of the facility.”
Working with the AFL has taught Scott a lesson, he said.
“It's a necessity to them that we help, and for us, it's another way of doing something to help the community,” said Scott. “We are real thankful for that; we work hand-in-hand together and show them things they might not know, as well as learn from them.”
While the inclement weather and rugged living conditions may have made building difficult, it didn't stop the camaraderie.
“It was rough at first,” said Scott. “When we first got here, it was muddy. It rained almost every day. We live in tents with no air conditioning. Today was the first day I had cold water in two weeks. We just make the best out of it the best we can. We keep each other’s morale up and constantly talk and encourage each other.”
That led to some special bonds, said Scott.
“We are on name-to-name basis,” he said. “We have nicknames that we call out.”
Haywood said the AFL are hard workers and they have a good relationship with them.
“Capt. Dada worked on two previous ETU sites,” said Haywood. “It's always very helpful to work with someone that's very experienced.”
Working with the U.S. Army is a great opportunity, said Dada, the project officer of the 1st Engineer Company.
“The biggest thing I admire about the U.S. Army is their level of organization,” he said. “We can use some of their skills to develop our own army and develop how we do things in our army. We are very fortunate to have this experience”
Dada said working with the U.S. Army to build the ETUs has been very helpful, especially using the different group skills.
The construction of the ETU should be done before the end of the year, said Scott.
“We are not only helping the people of Liberia, we are helping the whole world by helping stop the spread of the Ebola virus,” said Scott.
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