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Engineers build trust in hearts of Ethiopians;

By Sgt. Bradly Shaver | | September 14, 2003

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Army Reserve soldiers of Detachment 2, 463rd Engineer Battalion here supporting Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, have built a special bond with the residents of Hurso, Ethiopia.

Arriving at Camp Ramrod in early August, the Engineers from Wheeling, W.Va., constructed additions to the community's school and health clinic in less than three weeks.

A key element of the CJTF-HOA mission lies in making a positive difference in the lives of the region's citizens and their environment.

"Progress here has become a rapid development," said Army Staff Sgt. Timothy Dillon, construction supervisor. "For the majority of the detachment, we don't deal with construction in our everyday civilian jobs; so I'm very impressed with our teamwork in getting this mission complete."

Beginning from ground zero Aug. 10, the Engineers promptly constructed a 27 x 20 ft. addition to the school and 20 x 36 ft. addition to the clinic. The Engineers also installed a water-supply unit for waste-disposal inside the clinic. 

"The school originally had only two classrooms for children up to the 8th grade," Dillon said. "After we're through it'll have six rooms, this way they won't have to study outside. Also, putting in the unit for running water in the clinic will be very beneficial to the community, helping make things more sanitized."

Army Staff Sgt. William Bowers, assistant construction supervisor, said the detachment could tell the residents of Hurso appreciated their work and hard effort. When '463 arrived and built the school a bench and desk to study on, the children were delighted they no longer had to sit on the floor.

"This kind of work we don't get to see back in the states. We don't get to build schools or clinics, so being here and doing this is a great experience for all of '463," said Bowers. "Being deployed here, we get to contribute something good to the communities. When you get to make such a huge change as building them a school, it makes you feel really good inside."

Dillon described the health clinic as originally being made up of sticks and mud. After the Engineers started construction, they assembled a concrete building for the community in less than a week.

Teamwork and leadership has played an important role in the projects assigned to the Engineers in Ethiopia.

"It's been a wonderful thing to come to Africa and do a humanitarian mission in Ethiopia," said Army Spc. Scott Shafer, engineer. "It's an exciting culture shock seeing the way people live here and the vast differences in our homelands.

"Being in (this) country and helping out the people here has made me realize not to take things for granted," said Shafer, a carpenter from Virginia. "It's been a good experience. Time sure flies by when I'm working here."

"Since I've been here I've improved my leadership skills tremendously," said Bowers, a student at Virginia Tech prior to being deployed to the Horn of Africa. "Here, I know what needs to be done and how to do it directly. Hopefully we can take everything we've learned here back to our lives outside of the military."

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