NEW LONDON, Conn. – It is a little known fact that the 250th Engineer Company (Multi-Role Bridge Company), does some of their best work on the water.
The unit’s Soldiers showed its skills, deploying their boats en masse on the Thames River in support of the Sailfest, July 8.
The 250th usually deploy their Improved Ribbon Bridge in order to ferry personnel and equipment across a body of water that may be too wide to accommodate a bridge, or in a location where a bridge is not practical. The Improved Ribbon Bridge, used as the raft, is powered across the water by two bridge erection boats and guided by a bridge commander located on the raft.
While that is the norm for the 250th, this operation was not about a military supplies, troop movements or overall security, it was about coming together as a community.
This year’s Sailfest was the 40th year the festival has taken place, and it has grown into quite the extravaganza. A three-day festival, there are carnival rides, multiple food vendors, live music throughout, and a world-class fireworks display.
“Sailfest is basically about pulling our community and all the surrounding communities to just enjoy a great firework display, great music, great food – just an all-round great festival,” said Andre Danford, entertainment coordinator for the event.
The 250th definitely considers itself part of that community, as the unit is based just minutes away from Sailfest’s location, so it was more than appropriate that they come out and take part in the festivities.
This year, the engineer company participated by assembling an Improved Ribbon Bridge off the dock at the state boat ramp, loading it up with personnel and a HMMWV Utility Truck, pushing the whole thing down the Thames River with two bridge erection boats, and docking it at a pier at the festival. It seemed everyone enjoyed the display.
Of course the display could not have happened without and experienced and skilled Raft Commander. The raft commander is the person in charge of the whole operation from assembly of the raft and directing the movement of the raft
For Sailfest, the role of Raft Commander was left to Staff Sgt. Nathan Turner from Woodstock, the noncommissioned officer in charge of retention for the 250th. Overall, he thought the operation was a success.
“I think this is good because it’s very rare that the public gets to see what we do... so it gets us in the public eye and helps people understand what it is that we do, which is good because were right down the road so were kind of the local unit for them,” Turner said. “On top of that, it also provides an opportunity for the younger kids to see what they could do in the guard and get them excited to maybe do something fun.”
All in all, the Troops and the local community did seem to enjoy the experience, the 250th were able to show their neighbors a little of what they do, and according to Danford the community enjoyed the display.
“We support our Troops, this is great for the kids to see, it’s great for the adults to see... and what a great display [watching the 250th] come in, everybody that was here just immediately flocked to see [these Soldiers].”