Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

Posts made in: August, 2014 (87) Currently Viewing: 51 - 60 of 87

August 19, 2014 at 7:33am

Tuesday Morning Joe: US blows up its tanks, Russia in Ukraine, Camp Grayling is bad news, best CGI films ...

The 299th Eng. Co., 463rd Eng. Bn., 411th Eng. Bde., perform the coffee pot throw segment of Mystery Event 1, during the Best Warrior Competition at Fort Devens, Mass. Original photo by Sgt. 1st Class Lyndon Miller


As many as 700 heavily armed Taliban insurgents are battling Afghan security forces in Logar, a key province near the capital Kabul in a test of the Afghan military's strength as foreign forces pull out of the country.

U.S. spends millions to blow up its own tanks.

President Barack Obama promised that while the U.S. would use its formidable air power to help Iraq push back extremist Islamic State fighters from Erbil and other key northern Iraqi cities, Baghdad shouldn't count on the U.S. "being the Iraqi Air Force."

Russia invaded Ukraine early in the spring. They started with the so-called "little green men" - Russian soldiers without insignia on their green uniforms -- then proceeded with uniforms with epaulets and the annexation of Crimea. Russia has been the force behind, and on the ground, with the separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Despite sanctions relief, Iran aids Hamas with missile technology.

The U.S. Navy destroyed the "most dangerous chemicals in Syria's declared stockpile," aboard a ship in the Mediterranean.

Will the U.S. defend Japan? More of a definite maybe.

First Time: It was one small button push for man and one giant catapult launch for the Navy's unmanned air combat program Sunday as the X-47B flew its first takeoffs and landings with F/A-18s on the aircraft carrier Roosevelt.

The Defense Department awarded 78 contracts potentially worth $5.6 billion in the week ending Aug. 15.

A backpack able to lower its wearer down the side of a building could become must-have gear for troops in urban combat.

A Michigan National Guard investigation produced allegations of widespread theft, moonlighting, destruction of government property and nepotism at an equipment maintenance facility at the Camp Grayling military training base.

Report: Army Olympian cited for hunting deer at car dealership.

Interesting: This neat short film explains the evolution of film opening titles throughout history.

The 10 most visually striking movies that are filled with CGI.

Here's a recipe for fun: Go up to the 48th floor of a skyscraper in London. Enjoy a beer at the rooftop bar. Change into your base jumping gear in the restroom. Make a beeline for the balcony and jump into the heart of London.

This is sad: Saturday Night Live announcer Don Pardo died. He was 96.

How Would They Know?: Children reenact Emmy-nominated shows like Game of Thrones, House of Cards and True Detective.

Tom Hanks' typewriter app is a hit.

Legendary American singer-songwriter Stevie Nicks invites fashion designers and stylists across the world to design a show-stopping shawl inspired by her mystical visual style and symbolic lyrics.

Max-imize your day ...

LINK: Original photo by Sgt. 1st Class Lyndon Miller

August 19, 2014 at 7:49am

5 Things To Do Today: The Gothard Sisters, "Manos Sucias," graphic novel chat, hypnotist ...

The Gothard Sisters / photo courtesy of Facebook

TUESDAY, AUG. 19 2014 >>>

1. Hear (and see) classically-trained violinists Greta, Willow and Solana. See (and hear) the dancing of Greta, Willow and Solana. See sisters Greta, Willow and Solana present a Celtic variety show at no cost to you. Catch The Gothard Sisters at noon at Puyallup's Pioneer Park.

2. Catch the Fun Addicts at Skansie Brothers Park tonight at 6:30 p.m., part of the Gig Harbor Summer Sounds at Skansie Park series.

3. Yes, 5 Things To Do Today is pounding home the 25 New Faces of Independent Film at The Grand Cinema. The best rising talent in the film industry - actors, writers, directors and animators - can be seen in Tacoma's art house. Among the magic today is a 7 p.m. screening of the Spike Lee-produced Manos Sucias, the story of young, black Colombian men and their attempt to break free from the downtrodden and war-torn country and find peace in another place featuring young talented actors.

4. Art Spiegelman has almost single-handedly brought comic books out of the toy closet and onto literature shelves winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1992 for his masterful graphic novel, Maus I: A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History - one of the hardest hitting graphic novels ever written. Spiegelman wrote Maus as a biography of his father, Vladek Spiegelman, and his Holocaustexperiences through very straightforward but well drawn and written metaphor. The Banned Book Club will discuss the graphic novel at 7 p.m. inside Doyle's Public House.

5. You are getting sleepy, v-e-r-y sleepy. Now, go see the hypnotist show at 8 p.m. inside the Red Wind Casino. Whether a skeptic or believer, the show will be sure to entertain with its comedy, rock and roll and outrageous hypnosis, like people sneezing and having orgasms(!) when Ron Stubbs, the man behind the magic, utters the word "pepper."

LINK: Tuesday, Aug. 19 arts and entertainment events in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area

August 19, 2014 at 9:48am

Nerd Alert! - Action Comics #1, Settlers of Kaletron Tuesday nights, Emo Philips in Tacoma

With a wide-eyed, childlike stare, Emo Philips draws an audience down a winding garden path, the listener hanging on every word, softly spoken in an innocently wavering falsetto sing-song voice.

Action Comics #1

It's not a brave stance for me to start a Nerd Alert column with this statement: Zack Snyder's Man of Steel was a piece of utter garbage, so stultifying and absurdly misguided in its interpretation of a classic figure that it defies all odds. The chances of Man of Steel's sequel rising above the muck of its predecessor are not ideal, but there's still time to right the ship.

I bring up that blight on Superman's career so that I can direct you to a celebration of his humble beginning. In a shocking turn of events, a copy of Action Comics #1 has appeared on Ebay. This issue marked Superman's introduction, and as such remains a highly valuable collector's item. This copy, however, is different. Touting a 9.0 rating from the CGC (the foremost comics appraisal company), this issue of Action Comics #1 is the most pristine unrestored copy in existence. In fact, only 34 unrestored issues of this comic are still around, which makes this quite possibly the most valuable comic in the world.

As of press time, the top bid for Action Comics #1 stood at around $1.75 million with six days left to bid. The last 9.0 rated copy of this issue was sold for $2.1 million in 2011 by Nicolas Cage, of all people.

Settlers of Kaletron

Last year, The New Frontier Lounge adopted a game night for Tuesdays, called Settlers of Kaletron. MC'd by Kale Iverson, the night revolved around tables of drunk revelers playing rounds of The Settlers of Catan, while Kaletron played ukelele and improvised looped electronica. For the month of August, the event has been revived, with game nights every Tuesday. This time around, though, attendants are being encouraged to bring along board games of all varieties.

Nothing like getting lit and angrily swiping all the pieces off of your Risk board.

Emo Philips

Whenever a legend of comedy comes to Tacoma, it shouldn't go unheralded. Emo Philips has been in the business for almost 40 years. Since the beginning, he's been a true original, inspiring a whole generation of absurdist joke-centric comedians such as Mitch Hedberg, Demetri Martin and Patton Oswalt. His style is frequently copied, but never matched, with his odd falsetto and wandering way of delivering jokes. Emo Philips is like Steven Wright, countering Wright's philosophical deadpan with an impish, singsongy surrealism. This is not to be missed. Witness it at 8 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 24 at the Tacoma Comedy Club.

Filed under: Nerd Alert!, Pop Culture, Tacoma,

August 19, 2014 at 10:16am

NW Military in the Outdoors Expo inspired veterans to explore

NW Military in the Outdoors Expo lined the Ruston Way waterfront in Tacoma Aug. 16. Photo credit: Gary Lott

I just moved here. What do I do? How do I get out?

These are questions that many may ask when moving to Washington, and thanks to an event on the Ruston Way waterfront this past Saturday, many service members now have some answers.

The NW Military in the Outdoors Expo showcased a wide range of workforce and recreation opportunities available to service members, veterans and families in the Pacific Northwest.

"It's a way to bring visibility to a community that's very important to the fabric of our country," said Lili Allala, a Northwest recruiter for the Student Conservation Association. "It's a way to network, get to know one another and see what other programs and organizations are out there that can assist."

Certification courses are available in wilderness first aid, chainsaw handling and red card certification and firefighting. And with wildfires burning in Central Washington, there are many employment and emergency preparedness opportunities available.

"In certain situations like fighting a fire, you're working in a team and trusting them with your livelihood," Allala said.  "That kind of level of pushing yourself physically and mentally in the outdoors is something that the military is already used to."

>>> Nicholas and his son, Cole, climbed the Washington National Guard's Recruiting and Retention Battalion's rock wall. Photo credit: Gary Lott

However, the outdoors doesn't just mean emergency preparedness.

"Everything is centered around the outdoors, but it's about so much more," said NW Military in the Outdoors Expo organizer and Sierra Club Military Outdoors lead organizer Joshua Brandon. "It's also about recreation, employment, therapy and education all combined, and it's really important for the military to look at it in that range."

From 2002-2012, Brandon served as an Army infantry officer, went on three deployments to Iraq and was even a 3-2 Stryker right at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. With multiple deployments, Brandon experienced post traumatic stress disorder struggles firsthand.

"From my personal experience, recovery can be a big benefitting factor for the military to take from the outdoors," he said. "It's a natural treatment for PTSD and TBI and is so much better than pills."

This message of recovery, recreation, emergency preparedness and even employment is a message that Brandon has been preaching for years.  However, when he met Nicholas Carr, the constituent services representative for veterans, active duty military and higher education for Representative Derek Kilmer during an annual 9/11 therapy mountain traverse up the Olympic mountains, the message turned into the NW Military in the Outdoors Expo.

"Hearing about how the outdoors saved my life and the positive effects it's had on me, Nick has been extremely passionate and just really wanted to get that message out to the people in the community," Brandon said.

This was the first annual NW in the Outdoors Expo, but according to Carr and Brandon, it will undoubtedly not be the last.

For more information visit www.facebook.com/NWMilitaryOutdoors.

Filed under: Military, Veterans, outdoors,

August 19, 2014 at 12:38pm

Rock legend Graham Nash will present "Wild Tales" in Puyallup

In "Wild Tales," Graham Nash tells a few stories about the supergroup constantly at each other’s throats in drug-fueled rages while the world grooved to the harmonies of Crosby, Stills, Nash and sometimes Young.

I always get uneasy when musicians attempt to cross over to stage and screen. John Bon Jovi on Ally McBeal? No amount of chest waxing could make him tolerable. Britney Spears in Crossroads? No longer a girl, not yet an actress. Madonna in ... anything. Run for the aisles!

Graham Nash of Crosby, Stills & Nash demonstrated his inner Andy Warhol in his photography exhibits and books. His fiercely intimate self-portraits made me wonder if I've intruded on a private moment. There has been tenderness, a reverence about his stunning images.

Nash has written another book, this time his autobiography, Wild Tales: A Rock and Roll Life. Puyallup Public Library will host Nash for a book signing at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 13. No, seriously.

According to pre-visit hype, "Graham Nash - legendary singer-songwriter and founding member of the iconic bands Crosby, Stills & Nash and the Hollies - delivers an engrossing, no-holds-barred look back at his remarkable career and the music that defined a generation."

The Puyallup Library folks warn the author will only sign copies of Wild Tales and the CSNY 1974 box set, "that only guests with at least one copy of the book will be allowed in the signing line and there will be no posed photos with the author.  King's Books of Tacoma will be in hand with copies of Wild Tales for purchase and signing." 

This is a free event; no registration is required. Doors will open for the limited-seating event at noon and you're out the door by 2 p.m.

Filed under: Books, Music,

August 19, 2014 at 1:07pm

Terrorizing Rabbits: Washington National Guard trains for newest biological threat at Fircrest school

The simulated attack began at 7:35 a.m. when the fire alarm system at Wainwright Elementary School in Fircrest was activated. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

The two soldiers from the North Dakota National Guard crinkled in their black hazardous materials suits as they walked through the darkened and deserted elementary school.

Movements were constricted; communication muffled.

Condensation streaked their masks reducing visibility.

At times, tempers got short.

After two hours of searching, the soldiers emerged from the building and headed back to their command post.

They had not found the bioweapon.

The simulated attack began at 7:35 a.m. when the fire alarm system at Wainwright Elementary School in Fircrest was activated.

Approximately 300 faculty and students exited the building and moved to areas of accountability. While in these areas, the school's sprinkler system inexplicably activated, drenching everyone.

When the school's janitor turned the sprinklers off, he noticed that someone had put a timer on the system with a hose running out of the shed and attached to one of the sprinklers.

Then things got worse.

At 7:45 a.m., multiple news agencies received an email from an unknown person or agency claiming credit for the biological attack on Wainwright.

The terrorist(s) claimed that the food and water at the school had been targeted and that the sprinkler system had been activated to spray students and faculty with a biological weapon of mass destruction.

The message ended by saying there would be more attacks.

"A biological attack is the toughest to deal with; you have to first find out what it is before you can deal with it," commented Maj. Jim Jack, the deputy commander of the Washington National Guard's 10th Civil Support Team.

"And in this scenario the terrorists have used a weapon that may be the next big bioweapon."

The news agencies contacted the police and fire departments. Both arrived on scene.

Fire personnel determined the fire alarm had been manually activated and began to investigate the report of the use of a bioweapon. In short order, decontamination assets were requested.

So too are the FBI, the Departments of Health and Ecology and the Washington National Guard's Civil Support Team, or CST.

The unit supports civil authorities at domestic incident sites involving chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosives (CBRNE).

The team provides identification and assessment of hazards, advice to civil authorities and facilitates the arrival of follow-on military forces during emergencies and incidents of weapons of mass destruction terrorism.

>>> A member of North Dakota's National Guard's 81st Civil Support Team monitors for a chemical, radiological or biological element during a training exercise. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

Joining the 10th CST at Wainwright Elementary Aug. 18 in Fircrest for this simulated multi-CST exercise were soldiers assigned to the 81st CST from North Dakota, the 82nd CST from South Dakota and the 102nd CST from Oregon.

After setting up an operations center, the CSTs comprised of about 80 soldiers quickly began to eliminate the known variables in an attempt to zero in on the biological agent.

>>> Water was the source of the attack, and soldiers from the North Dakota's 81st Civil Support Team search a kitchen sink. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

The students and faculty were run through a decontamination process and found to be safe.  Parents were notified and assured that their children were not contaminated.

School officials were questioned about who had been in and out of the school over the past several weeks.

One item of interest that emerged was that about 30 students had been sick before the attack, and it was noted that the students came from certain areas of the school.

In each area there was a water source.

With instructions that a biological dispersal device had been used that may involve water, CSTs from North Dakota's 81st CST and Oregon's 102nd CST suited up.

The soldiers searched the exterior and interior of the school.  They moved deliberately; they used equipment to measure for radiation and gas; they took hundreds of pictures.

What they didn't know was what exactly the bioweapon was and how it had been dispersed.  All they knew is that water played a role.

The weapon brings to mind an image of a bunny rabbit.

Tularemia, sometimes referred to as rabbit fever, was the weapon.  It can be transferred through physical contact, the air or through water sources.

If untreated, the disease results in death.

>>> Working in the hot and muffled world of a hazardous material suit led to the build-up of sweat and condensation. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

In a recently published report, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) stated that tularemia has been used as a bioweapon in other countries.

"Despite its importance for both public health and biodefense," said Geoffrey Feld at the most recent annual Biophysical Society Meeting, "tularensis pathogenesis isn't entirely understood, nor do we fully understand how the organism persists in the environment.

As the soldiers from the 81st CST began their search through the school, they focused on drinking foundations, sinks and other water sources.

The dispersal systems - a water foundation, a spray bottle and a sink in a classroom - were in the open.

Like a plastic spray bottle.

"The weapon is in the water; the spray bottle is used to clean the tables where the children sit to eat their breakfast; that's how the children become infected," pointed out Lt. Col. Scott Humphrey, the 10th CST's commander.

For the better part of two hours they searched the school's kitchen, classrooms and gymnasium.

Much, much later they found the dispersal systems.

"How operations are conducted can vary from state to state," continued Humphrey.

"The week long training we are involved in gives us the chance to train each other while challenging our skill sets. We only get better."

August 20, 2014 at 7:35am

Wednesday Morning Joe: Israelis hit Palestinians, neo-Islam campaign, sequester fears return, Army rival gun, SEALs sub, best albums of decade ...

The 545th Military Police Company, of Pawleys Island, S.C., throws a practice coffee pot at Kraft Coffee Pot Range on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. Original photo by Justin Connaher


Islamic State militants posted a video on Tuesday that purported to show the beheading of American journalist James Foley in revenge for U.S. air strikes against the insurgents in Iraq.

Lawmakers mourned the death of freelance journalist James Foley after video purporting to show his beheading at the hands of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. 

Israeli air strikes killed 11 Palestinians in Gaza, including the wife and infant son of Hamas' military leader, after a ceasefire collapsed. 

The mission for U.S. troops in Iraq to help Kurdish and Iraqi security forces in their fight against Islamic militants remains limited for now, but may expand after Iraqi leaders form a new government.

After a long slumber spent in denial, the UN Security Council has decided to do "something" about the forces of neo-Islam now on the rampage in more than a dozen countries across the globe.

The U.N. refugee agency begins a massive four-day airlift today into Irbil in northern Iraq. It's one of the largest humanitarian aid push the agency has ever undertaken. And it's much needed. Half a million refugees have been displaced as ISIS militants have advanced.

Afghan special forces brace for exit of elite U.S. troops.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has the authority to suspend a program that sends surplus military equipment to local law enforcement agencies.

After month on back burner, sequester fears return.

Federal regulators on Tuesday outlined interim rules for streamlined firing of Veterans Affairs Department senior executives, a new authority backed by Congress in an effort to clean up cultural problems at the embattled department.

In its latest personal attack on a prominent official from a rival country, North Korea called U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry a wolf with a "hideous lantern jaw."

A competing rifle outperformed the Army's favored M4A1 carbine in key firings during a competition last year before the service abruptly called off the tests and stuck with its gun, according to a new confidential report.

The U.S. Navy is hard at work developing new underwater transports for its elite commandos. The SEALs expect the new craft - and improvements to large submarine "motherships" that will carry them - to be ready by the end of the decade.

A squirrel's gonna do what a squirrel's gotta do: Until he's up against a pole greased with Vaseline

Big couch, small car: Add someone who's really bad at physics, and you get this

When koala bears argue: It's adorable.

If there is such thing as a perfect motorcycle accident, this might be it.

Pitchfork names the "100 Best Albums of the Decade So Far."

Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul go into business together and this time it's legal ... barely.

Here's a schedule of when every Simpsons episode will air on FXX, starting tomorrow.

Dave Letterman's tribute to Robin Williams will bring tears to your eyes.

First a couple exercises before we begin the day ...

LINK: Original photo by Justin Connaher

August 20, 2014 at 7:51am

5 Things To Do Today: Darren Motamedy, Mini Hop Fest, Drinking Liberally, Ko Ko Jo ...

Darren Motamedy has released 11 smooth jazz albums since 1989.

WEDNESDAY, AUG. 20 2014 >>>

1. Smooth jazz isn't just for sick people in medical-office waiting rooms. Besides one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet, Darren Motamedy blends jazz with pop, funk and blues to create a contagious sound. Grab a lawn chair for his 6:30 p.m. show in Steilacoom's Pioneer Park.

2. The public is invited to spend an afternoon at the Lacey Museum, located at 829 Lacey St. SE in the historic neighborhood of Lacey, from 4-6 p.m. Want more Lacey? The Lacey Historical commissioners will be in the house, the house being the Lacey Museum. A presentation will be given on the current status of the new museum project, the "Lacey Museum at the Depot," beginning at 5:15 p.m. Lacey, get to know it ... all of it.

3. Pint Defiance is hosting a Mini Hop Fest with Laurelwood, as the Portland brewery takes over half the beer and taproom's taps with their hop-centric brews. On draft from 5-7 p.m. will be some of Laurelwood's hoppiest concoctions including Pale Pony ISA, Workhorse IPA, Green Elephant IPA and a rare appearance of Megafauna Imperial IPA.

4. They say never talk politics at the bar. The Black Angus in Lakewood encourages it. With the dismal low voting in the recent primary, there is bound to be some interesting conversations beginning at 6 p.m. Drinking Liberally Lakewood is an informal gathering of like-minded left-leaners and true hardcore lefties who want to trade ideas, get more involved, to rant, or just share each others company ... over drinks.

5. What happened to Freckles Brown? The Olympia quartet is now Ko Ko Jo, will perform rock and country covers, as well as their own tunes, at 7 p.m. in Sylvester Park.

LINK: Wednesday, Aug. 20 arts and entertainment events in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area

August 20, 2014 at 9:51am

Kitsap Stampede rodeo includes salute to military Aug. 21, donation to Fisher House

John Michael Montgomery performs tonight at the Thunderbird Arena directly after the Extreme Bull Competition.

Get ready to hold on to your (cowboy) hats. The annual Kitsap County Fair and Stampede kicks off today with five days of carnival rides, critters, deep-fried dough concoctions, a wide array of sure-to-please entertainment and much more.

The "stampede" part of this extravaganza is a series of rodeo events including an Extreme Bull Competition today followed by a concert performance by country singer John Michael Montgomery.

Three days of Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA) pro rodeo action kicks off with a special salute to the military at 7 p.m., Aug. 21.

Joint Base Lewis-McChord Fisher House Manager Jodi Land will be on hand to accept a donation of $5,000 courtesy of the Kitsap rodeo committee, which will also honor other local service members prior to the start of the action.

"We are so grateful for the generous support that will be used to provide a 'home away from home' for our military service men and women and their loved ones receiving care at Madigan Army Medical Center," Land said.

The JBLM Fisher House is one of 63 similar houses around the world. It provides a comfortable, safe place for ill and injured service members and their families to stay for up to six months at no charge. 

The Fisher House donation comes as part of National Wrangler Patriot Night, a year-round program that raises funds to support U.S. military veterans and their families.

"We have a high level of pride and respect for individuals serving in the U.S. military who show heroism every day in an effort to protect our country," said Phil McAdams, president of Wrangler Specialty Apparel, on the program's website. "This is our chance to give back to those veterans who have suffered injuries fighting for our country's safety and freedom, and to their families who have lost a loved one while on duty." Since it began in 2009, the Wrangler National Patriot program has donated more than $750,000.

"A local committee will raise money for a local veteran's charity, and they will match it up to $2,500," explained Dennis Wood, a volunteer on the Kitsap Stampede rodeo committee. "We get to pick the charity, and it stays in our area. Then we go out and raise money - at least $2,500 - so they will match it."

During the past six months or so, the Kitsap Stampede rodeo committee has been raising funds for the JBLM Fisher House. Three silent auctions, a comedy night at a local tavern and a barrel race all brought in more than the required $2,500, Wood said.

The all-volunteer committee is made up of many veterans or those affiliated with the military, said Wood, a retired Navy master chief who has been in the area since 1985. "So there are a lot of people really attached to it."

In addition to the check presentation and service member recognition, Wrangler is providing hats to the first 500 veterans at Thursday's rodeo kick-off event along with National Patriot program bandanas. Active duty and retired service members and their dependents with valid military ID, along with first responders, get in to the fair and rodeo that day for just two bucks.

So dust off those cowboy boots, dig out your best cowboy hat and head up to Kitsap this week for some world-class rodeo action.

KITSAP COUNTY FAIR AND STAMPEDE, Aug. 20-24, 1200 NW Fairgrounds Road, Bremerton, tickets start at $11, children 5 and younger free, http://www.kitsapgov.com/parks/fairgrounds/pages/fair_information.htm.

August 20, 2014 at 11:32am

Mud Men of the 617th Engineer Company

Here is the 617th Engineer Company's plan. Courtesy photo

Although it is located 40 miles from where the 617th Engineer Company is based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord as part of the 555th Engineer Brigade, soldiers have been hard at work on the Mud Mountain Dam Road Improvement Project for the last month.

Mud Mountain Dam protects the lower White and Puyallup River valleys from flooding. It is also open to recreational use along the White River (near Mt. Rainier) so that visitors can picnic, hike, bike or even ride horses all in view of the large dam.

The work has involved improving a two-mile stretch of road adjacent to the Mud Mountain Dam near Enumclaw, from adding a ditch to aggregate distribution to road compaction. 

That being said, while the 617th Engineer Company is equipped with the soldiers, capability and the time to handle the Mud Mountain project, it was only through a partnership with the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) from the Seattle district that the resources and task became available. 

The project, which was planned primarily at the company level and executed at the platoon level, has been underway since July 21 with direct USACE coordination. Throughout the process, there have been approximately 10 to 15 soldiers remaining onsite at a time with organic assets, rotating in and out in weeklong increments.

"This is the first time that we've partnered with the USACE in the two years I've been here," said 1st Lt. Alexander Sackmann, who has been serving as the project manager to ensure that the soldiers have what they need to complete the mission.

"We are a horizontal construction company, so this is crucial to our training and in line with our skills, but we don't always get this sort of opportunity," Sackmann continued. "We cannot do many construction projects around JBLM due to how densely populated it is."

"It was real-world training in open area so we're capable of doing so much more," agreed Staff Sgt. John Thompson.

Best of all, the improvements that have been made will allow for the safe transfer of salmon when they run upstream this season, according to Thompson.

"We want to continue the partnership in the future with the USACE because they have been great to work with throughout the project," Sackmann explained, citing USACE team members Rick Emry, Dan Johnson, Sam Stables and Mike Bartholet, specifically.

The project is on track to end Aug. 22 when the spillway access road improvement is finalized.


Major transition for the 555th Engineer Brigade at Joint Base Lewis-McChord

About this blog

News and entertainment from Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s most awesome weekly newspapers - The Ranger, Northwest Airlifter and Weekly Volcano.

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