Throughout August, we’re talking about the many engineering military occupational specialties (MOS) that are available in the Army National Guard. This week, On Your Guard flashes back to a particularly interesting disaster exercise that took place near Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, last year. Did you know Guard Soldiers can construct a floating bridge that’s 44 yards long in a mere 90 minutes? Check out the details in this excerpt from GX magazine …
Engineers from the 125th Multi-Role Bridge Company (MRBC), South Carolina Army National Guard, were tasked with constructing a temporary floating bridge to ferry equipment and supplies from the landing to Sandy Island to support Palmetto Thunder, a joint training exercise with local civilian authorities and the South Carolina National Guard.
Agencies from Georgetown and Horry counties, along with units from the South Carolina Guard, participated in the training exercise that depicted response efforts in the aftermath of a mock commercial airliner crashing on approach to Myrtle Beach International Airport near Sandy Island.
Due to the location of the simulated crash site and debris field, the South Carolina National Guard was called to train with various support capabilities, including rotary aircraft, water purification, security, and hazardous materials response. Almost 300 personnel from different units in the State National Guard supported Palmetto Thunder.
The 125th MRBC is equipped with the Dry Support Bridge System (DBS) and can deploy a 40-meter (44-yard) bridge in under 90 minutes during daytime. The bridge sections are palletized and transported by a 600-horsepower Palletized Load System (PLS).
“This scenario provides us with the opportunity to gain real-world experience so that we will be prepared to provide relief to our community,” said Private First Class Serenia Thatcher, a 12C Bridge Crewmember with the 125th MRBC.
South Carolina is prone to hurricanes, which pose a concern to residents annually with a storm season that runs from June until November. One of the major missions of the 125th MRBC is to provide support and relief to the State coast and neighboring islands.
“We can go out and build our bridges and transport any civilians who need our help,” said PFC Thatcher. “My family lives in Charleston, and it could be my relatives who are in need of help. It makes me feel good to know that I can go out and help, and save lives.”
“It’s moments like this,” said (now retired) Brigadier General Darlene Goff, (former) director of joint staff for the South Carolina National Guard, “… that make a difference. While we provide lifesaving capabilities and train to accomplish missions, it’s really about people. That’s what the National Guard is about.”
Original story and photo, by SGT Brian Calhoun and courtesy of GX magazine, were first published online on Feb. 6, 2014. GX magazine is an official publication of the Army National Guard.