Members of the 247th Engineer Detachment, CTARNG conduct drilling operations at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, April 20. The unit spent their two-week annual training period at FIG constructing the 300-foot well that will be utilized by base firefighting equipment in the event of a brush fire. This is the third well that the 247th has drilled at FIG in the last three years. (Photo courtesy of the 247th Engineer Detachment, CTARNG)


FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Penn. – Guardsmen assigned to the 247th Engineer Detachment drilled a 300-foot well - the third well in three years that the Well Drillers have completed for Fort Indiantown Gap – as part of the unit’s 2017 Annual Training in April.

The well drilling operation was requested by Fort Indiantown Gap Range Operations as part of their annual, “maintenance shutdown” weeks. In recent years, an increase in brush fires sparked by live fire ranges, required planning for additional well sites for firefighting equipment to refill.

The mission was to drill a well to 300 feet, set a pump, and construct a tank pad –one of many wells drilled over the years by the 247th.

Past missions at Fort Indiantown Gap included drilling another 300-foot well for NBC vehicle washing in 2015, as well as last year’s objective to complete a close combat support well.

Long term, the 247th Engineer Detachment has been crucial to the execution of Fort Indiantown Gap’s five-year well development plan and looks forward to future drilling projects, accomplishing the joint objective of real-time training and Post improvement. The Well Drillers are the only unit in the region available for such missions.

The Drill Rig and Tender – despite being nearly 30 years old – held up for one final mission.

The rig was built in November 1988 on a Navistar F-1954 chassis (6x6). The Drill was manufactured in 1990 by the George E Failing Company.

The Tender is also a 1988 Navistar model, with a body outfitted by Special Trucks Inc., Fort Wayne, Indiana.

The current system and unit deployed to Panama (two wells), Guatemala (six wells), Honduras (10 wells) and Nicaragua (two wells) for Operation New Horizons in the 1990s. For these humanitarian missions, wells provided access to clean water that directly led to the cut the infant mortality rate.

Later, the unit Deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (nine wells), in addition to drilling wells much closer to home in Connecticut – two at Stone’s Ranch Military Reservation and one for the Community Park in Manchester, Connecticut.

Other missions comprised assisting border control in California (three wells) and Arizona (three wells) and Camp Ethan Allen, Vermont (one well) in support of their range operations.

More recently, the 247th deployed to Afghanistan in 2010-2011 (four wells) for Operation Enduring Freedom, this time with a temporary new system - the Versa-Drill V-2000NG.

The 247th is set to be issued a new state-of-the-art system, a bittersweet day for members of the unit. The new system is the same system the unit deployed with to Afghanistan.

The new equipment will enhance the unit’s ability to drill more efficiently and deeper, up to 1,200 feet versus the current maximum of 600 feet.

For this current mission, the 247th continued to serve as a model for interstate partnership and assistance, as Fort Indiantown Gap is a key training area for Connecticut Guard units.