BAGHDAD (May 9, 2008) – There have been several great walls built throughout the world throughout history, three of which are Hadrian’s Wall, The Great Wall of China and The Berlin Wall.
There is a very notable and recent one in Iraq – the Great Wall of Sadr. This wall was constructed in one of the most hostile areas of Iraq known as Sadr City. This huge and long structure separates two districts Baghdad from each other. There is Tharwa to the north, and Jamilla to the south.
“This wall was constructed with force protection concrete T-wall structures that weigh between 12,000 to 14,000 pounds and stand 12 feet high by 5-feet wide,” said Capt. Jason Mahfouz, from Lake Charles, La. Mahfouz is the Operations Officer for the 769th Engineer Battalion with Multi-National Division – Baghdad. Captain Mahfouz is from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, “The wall consists of 3,126 T-wall structures covering a length of approximately 3.2 miles.”
Mahfouz reports that Soldiers of the 821st Horizontal Engineer Company, 769th Eng. Bn., 35th Eng. Bde., MND-B, from Summersville, W.Va., worked tirelessly on this project. He said the mission was very demanding.
The Engineer Soldiers headed to the Jamilla neighborhood of the Sadr City district of Baghdad to erect T-wall barriers with the use of a crane and a Skytrak forklift. They worked day and night to get the job done. The soldiers really lived up to their “combat engineer” name. They came under heavy enemy fire, almost every day, while working to complete the wall. Most of the enemy fire sent their way consisted of small arms and sniper fire, and there were bigger problems such as RPGs, grenades, and improvised-explosive devices.
Al Quds street, the location of this wall used to be filled with shops and markets, on both sides. The wall will soon help the area to return to this kind of activity again.
Since beginning construction on the wall, the number of attacks on the reconstruction effort throughout Baghdad have reduced. Freedom of movement for the extremists has diminished greatly due to the the wall, because it greatly restricts their movement. Maj. Michelle Dean, a native of New Orleans, who serves as an intelligence officer for the 769th Eng. Bn., 35th Eng. Bde., MND-B says constricting the extremists’ movement is a good thing. South of the barrier structure in Sadr City, there has been a positive effect on reconstruction efforts.
Major Dean said the mission of emplacing T-wall barriers might normally have been a very simple task but it is quite difficult logistically if all the pieces are not in order. Soldiers moved the T-wall components from a remote trans-load location to the location of the wall by using Palletized Loading System trucks also known as PLS.
To make the process more combat effective, PLS trucks were in constant use all day and night to deliver barriers to the site. Once there, a Soldier from the 821st Horizontal Engineer Company removes the barriers one at a time from the PLS using a Skytrak forklift vehicle. After unloading a barrier component from the PLS, it is transported to the crane and placed on the ground where an infantryman is standing by to hook the barrier up to an awaiting crane hoist.
Next, the 821st crane operator lifts the 14,000 pound structure and swings it around with precise coordination to the end of the wall where the infantryman on the ground guides the barrier into the waiting area to add to the now growing wall. This process was repeated day and night until the wall was completed.
“It was with this collaborative team effort that this wall was a great success,” said Lt. Col. Keith Waddell, a native of New Roads, La., who serves as the Battalion Commander of the 769th Eng. Bn., 35th Eng. Bde., MND-B. “As our Engineers continue to work effectively in this area, they have personally been witness and have participated in history in the making.”
The Soldiers of the 821st Horizontal Engineer Company will continue to work hard to do their part in the monumental mission in the reconstruction of the greater Baghdad area, according to Sgt. 1st Class Mark Peters, from Jane Lew, W.Va., a platoon sergeant for the 821st Horizontal Engineer Company, “When it is too hard for everyone else, it is just right for us (the 821st).”
Story By Sgt. Henry J. Bauer