Engineers have one of the most dangerous jobs in town

Sgt. 1Cl. Ronald D. Covington
First published May 7, 2003

"These men know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that when they are given the 'go,' they may not return," said Capt. Dean R. Gosney, platoon leader of Company C (Forward), 206th Engineer Battalion. This engineer unit supports the present US rotation of SFOR. "The only thing that keeps us alive is knowing we've trained hard and are confident in our training."

Tuzla - If an SFOR soldier ends up in a minefield, it's Company C's job to get him out. Maps may show many of the minefields in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but more than 60 percent of the minefields have not yet been identified. Anyone can end up in a minefield if they become complacent about their mine awareness training.
Most recent prototype equipment
The engineers also ensure roads, bridges and tunnels are safe for travel, and confirm that new construction areas are cleared of unexploded ordnance.
Their inventory includes three pieces of the Army's most recent prototype equipment, including the D-7 mine-clearing, armour-protecting (MCAP) dozer, which gives the engineer some safety in operation. Two pieces of their equipment are operated by remote control, the mini-flail and the M-1 Abrams Panther both equipped with the mine plow and roller.
Though this equipment offers the engineer some safety, it cannot be used any closer than 30 meters to a person in the open. At that point, the mine-clearing team employs its mine sweeping expertise, carefully probing inch-by-inch toward a mine victim. It takes men on the ground to safely extract a person from a minefield.
Combat engineers - also known as sappers - have a variety of skills they use on the battlefield. In addition to their expertise with land mines, they are skilled in building bridges, fortifications and battlefield obstacles. Sapper Point is their home here on Eagle Base.
Nothing else
"It is great being a combat engineer," said Spec. Chad E. Stidham, a member of the mine extraction team. "What other job could you have and do such versatile training?"
Even though the job is dangerous, most Company C sappers say they wouldn't want to do anything else.
"I love operating heavy equipment," said Sgt. Woody Clark, and MCAP operator. " If you hit a mine, your bells will ring but you should be safe."
This group of engineers was assembled from several different units, but Gosney said he is proud of the teamwork that they have developed.
"Combat engineers are the hardest working, most highly trained and versatile soldiers on the battlefield," he said. "They love what they do. They don't think about the danger. They just focus on the mission."

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: US

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Photos: Sgt 1st Class Ronald D. Covington

US Sgt. Danny Carpenter loosens bolts while removing the roller from the front of an M-1 Abrams Panther.

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US Spc. Chad Stidham operates an M-1 Abrams Panther by remote control during recent training on a local range. The Panther uses different attachments mounted on the front to clear a path through a minefield.