Soldiers move earth for military training - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Soldiers move earth for military training

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Yakima, WASH.--Over 100 soldiers were busy building roads and moving earth at the Yakima Training Center Saturday. It's all part of their military training.

Citizen soldiers in the 286th Engineer Company, a part of the Washington Army National Guard, do not just need to have proficient combat skills. They also need to be experts at using scrapers, dozers, dump trucks and other heavy operation machinery.

"They told me that this unit was a heavy equipment operation unit, and it was something I've always looked into and construction," said First Class Private Sean Hammer. "And it was pretty easy, I just decided 'hey yeah' this is the unit I want to go too."

"My dad was a mechanic on heavy equipment so I kind of had a little bit of background on it so I guess that's why I came to 286," said First Class Private Latia Leach.

During military training during the first weekend of November, soldiers are fixing parking lots and building roads in the Yakima Training Center.

"Giving our soldiers an opportunity to increase their level of proficiency on the equipment in an actual real world application," said Sgt. Nick Brown.

"It's just nice to be able to come out here and actually get something done," said Sgt. Poynter. "Like coming out here and doing roads, building projects and stuff like that. I do absolutely nothing with equipment outside of the National Guard."

Soldiers said creating tangible projects allows them to get real-life experience, and this will go far in helping them with their missions overseas.

"Definitely prepares us for a mission in Afghanistan where we'd be building a road that would have to be used," said Sgt. Brown. "Definitely is a different caliber and different level of training."

"Hopefully with deployment we'd actually be doing our job, and if so, everybody is getting a lot of machine time, getting on the equipment and learning each aspect of the operations," said Private Hammer.

Soldiers in the Engineer Company are not only performing missions within the Training Center, they've also been working with the Wenatchee National Forest Service to build a rock crawl area for ATV riders.

They've also helped repair a lot of washed out roads in the area.