By 2nd Lt. Brittany Ramos, Hurricane Task Force Public Affairs
BALKH PROVINCE, Afghanistan- Months of work takes shape as an 880-acre area here in Regional Command-North is officially dedicated Camp John Pratt, named after fallen U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 5 John C. Pratt, Aug. 14.
Pratt was assigned to 12th Combat Aviation Brigade.
The camp has been allocated to serve as an alternative egress staging area as the stream of troops and equipment being removed from the country increases.
Task Force Hurricane, a group of U.S. Army engineer units led by the Army Reserve's 841st Engineer Battalion, 926th Engineer Brigade, 412th Theater Engineer Command, continues construction of the egress staging camp in preparation for the thousands of troops that will use it as a collection area before departing Afghanistan.
The $27 million project, currently managed by a conglomeration of engineer units called Task Force Hurricane, is the number one priority and largest troop-based construction initiative underway in the region.
"In the past five months, we have moved and emplaced over 450,000 cubic yards of earth, which would fill the empire state building approximately four and a half times," explained U.S. Army Maj. Albert Lehmann, Task Force Hurricane construction effects officer who manages the project.
Even as the naming ceremony began, heavy equipment roared in the distance, preparing other areas to be inhabited as forward operating bases across Regional Command-North continue to close. Still, the weight of the dedication ceremony was not lost on those soldiers coated in dust and sweat, working nearby.
"We are honored to be working on a project that will be named after someone we served alongside," said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Tony Collins, the onsite non-commissioned officer-in-charge.
After a prayer by U.S. Army Chaplain (Maj.) Mark A. Levine, 12th CAB chaplain, the crowd listened to heartfelt anecdotes and eulogies from U.S. Army Col. Van J. Voorhees, 12th CAB commander, and Brig. Gen. Eric P. Wendt, Regional Command-North International Security Assistance Force Deputy Commander.
They nodded as the speakers recounted Chief Warrant Officer Pratt's life of character, family, and selfless service, and chuckled as Voorhees mentioned, "Chief Pratt avoided formations at all costs. This ceremony, with shade and no formations, is very much in John's style."
History weighed heavily in the air as the pristine white dedication plaque was unveiled and the American flag was raised above the camp for the first time.