FORT McCOY, Wis. –
A group of Army Reserve engineers from the Southfield, Michigan-based 601st Engineer Detachment began a project to install 28 light poles at the Central Receiving Shipping Point here June 17, 2022.
Most of the Soldiers from the 601st En. Det. are recent graduates of basic training and advanced individual training, said Sgt. 1st Class Nathan Pearson, detachment noncommissioned officer in charge, which creates a valuable training opportunity.
“The couple of NCOs we do have have been doing a good job on training those Soldiers on stuff like this,” he said. “The main focus has been training the individual Soldiers, the new Soldiers who have come to us. It is a lot of trenching, which gives our 12 Novembers, the equipment operators, they actually don’t get a lot of opportunity to train. There aren’t a lot of places that we can just go dig. It’s been pretty good.”
Installing 28 light poles, spread more than 100 feet apart, requires a lot of trench digging, properly placing concrete forms as well as running electrical conduit between each of the poles. These are skills that Project Manager Staff Sgt. Kenneth Killingbeck said will be valuable if the unit is called upon for any mission.
“Coming out here, doing this, it gives all these guys some good training and gives them a good handle if this is something we have to do overseas,” he said. “Even if we’re putting in pilings for a building, these guys know how to put one in. I’ve got 24 guys out here who learned a lot this last two weeks.”
One of those Soldiers on the receiving end of that training is Spc. Carl Cornelio, an electrical engineer who works on the COVID Team at Pfizer in his civilian job.
“Out here, it’s a lot of trade work so it’s totally different,” he said. “Getting a lot of this experience makes me flexible in the workplace. I’ll be able to use my skills somewhere else after I get out of here.”
Sergeant Gregory Lee Timko, interior electrician, 601st En. Det., led the electrical installation team and he also works on a nuclear project for Michigan State University in his civilian capacity.
“A lot of the guys who we have here, this is their first experience with a project outside of AIT,” Timko said. “A lot of these guys are very inexperienced as far as doing a large-scope project like this and how to lay things out properly. A lot of the work that we’ve been doing with them is teaching them how to properly run the PVC conduit underground, trenching, getting really good measurements so that’s been good.”
One of the other electricians, Sgt. Zach Squires, said he’s enjoyed learning and watching the project grow from an idea through each phase.
“Watching everything go together,” he said, “I’m learning at the same time as trying to help teach these guys the stuff that I do know. Watching this come together is the best part.”