• January 27, 2022
 Soldiers work to improve quality of life for Afghan evacuees

U.S. Army Sgt. Taylor Douglas and Spc. Derrick Reutebuch, assigned to the 40th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, hang a divider for a privacy partition Aug. 29, 2021, at Fort Bliss’ Doña Ana Complex in New Mexico. | U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Quintin Gee

Soldiers work to improve quality of life for Afghan evacuees

FORT BLISS – An unlikely team of Soldiers from the 40th Brigade Engineer Battalion (BEB), 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, came together recently, working tirelessly to provide Afghan evacuees safety and security upon their arrival to Fort Bliss, Texas.

Their mission began with the order to build and place privacy partitions at Fort Bliss’ Doña Ana Complex in New Mexico.

Sgt. Taylor Douglas, who normally operates as a mechanic, led the charge in planning and executing this urgent task at the ground level. He said it was all hands on deck, and his team of Soldiers came from all different specialties such as military intelligence, engineering and communications.

“When we initially started setting the privacy partitions up; we set up about 30 of them, making different prototypes,” Douglas said. “They needed the partitions all set up as soon as possible, and once we set them all up, the quota became a lot higher. We had to build a ton in a 48-hour time period.”

His team, separated into two teams that rotated working 12-hour shifts. Douglas said those shifts then broke down into several different stations. Eventually, they worked so quickly and efficiently they outpaced the supplies available. At the end of the 48 hours, the team built and set up 68 privacy partitions.

U.S. Army Spc. Derrick Reutebuch, an engineer with Bravo Company, 40th BEB, led the wood-cutting section. He said he used the woodworking knowledge he learned from his dad to lead his section and by the end of the 48 hours, they executed hundreds of cuts.

“My dad did construction, so I’ve done woodwork before. I’m comfortable with using the equipment,” Reutebach stated. “We were kind of guided on what we’re doing and what we needed to cut. We said ‘okay,’ measured it out, cut, and then the rest of the team drilled it all together and nailed it in. On to the next one.”

Reutebach continued saying that he felt his contribution to the operation went beyond just cutting wood.

“It feels good, and it feels right to help people that are in need. It was definitely fun and humbling to do something as a group and for other people,” he said.

After the 48 hours, the mission expanded beyond building and setting up privacy partitions. Douglas and his team began brainstorming other products they could provide, leading to them building approximately 40 benches, 12 soccer goals and 30 sets of clothes lines.

“Being able to have that feeling of giving back, and seeing the impact it has on other people, it’s a very humbling experience.” Douglas said.

Reutebach added that he enjoyed being able to interact with some of the Afghan children and see their positivity.

“The kids are very joyful, and it makes you smile. I had kids come up to me and give me fist bumps for no reason.” Reutebach said.

Staff Sgt. Brandy Herrmann  – Operation Allies Welcome – Operation Allies Refuge

For our complete coverage of Operation Allies Welcome/Refuge, click here.

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