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Together on the bridge

By 2nd Lt. Alexandre Barbé
First published in
SFOR Informer#112, May 3, 2001

About 10 Turkish engineers of the battalion based in Zenica and 18 American engineers of Company C, 648th Engineers Battalion, from Eagle Base, worked hard together for three days to re-deck Maoca bridge.

Maoca - For a first try, it was a complete success. On April 25, under a wonderful and welcomed sunshine, trucks and cars could cross again upon Maoca bridge safely. The drivers wore a large smile, the engineers too.
"I really enjoyed working with American engineers. I didn't expect such good team work," said Turkish Sgt. Arda Atalik. American 2nd Lt. David Henderson, leader of the American team on the ground said he was also very satisfied. "That was the first time we worked together and all went very well. Besides, we ended the work faster than planned," he said.
"We learned to work with safety first and we appreciated their professionalism. We exchanged our phone numbers and addresses and we'll try to keep in touch," said Turkish Master Sgt. Elir Dzer, deputy commander of the engineer team that comprises about 30 men in Zenica.
But the work didn't go on by itself. "The American engineer battalion asked us if there were bridges that needed to be repaired. One of our patrols reported on the situation of this bridge and we decided to mend it," Dzer explained.
"We came to make our own reconnaissance. The bridge needed to be re-decked on more than 30 percent of its surface. There were holes and it became dangerous," Henderson stated.
Interrupted works
The work began April 23; the Americans brought on trucks the tools and the needed materials for the day. But the works were many times interrupted. The engineers had to stop the trucks and the cars driving through the bridge on the "Acorn" road that links Zavidovici to Olovo.
"We tried not to stop the trucks too long in order that they didn't lose too much time in their job," Henderson affirmed. "It delayed a little bit our work but it was not a real problem," Dzer added. The local police helped them by providing traffic regulation.
The feet in the sawdust, the chain saw strongly handed, American Spec. Donald Parsons cut the last planks. "I hope that we'll work again with the Turks," Henderson said. He will not have to wait long for an answer. The Turks just learned from their headquarters that other joints bridging projects were to be, and soon.

Related link: Engineering - bridge stories
Nations of SFOR: Turkey, US