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THURSDAY, APRIL 24, 2014  08:48:27 AM

Welder works to prevent casualties along Afghanistan’s main highway

Email   Print   Share By Sgt. Julieanne Morse, 129th MPAD
July 4, 2013 | Across DoD
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Spc. Jonathan Carpenter, a wheeled vehicle mechanic with Co. B, 703rd BSB, 4th BCT, 3rd Inf. Div., cuts a piece of rebar that will be used for reinforcement on a culvert denial system at FOB Shank, in Logar Province, Afghanistan. Sgt. Julieanne Morse, 129th MPAD
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Sgt. Patrick Lewis, an allied trade specialist in Co. B, 703rd BSB, 4th BCT, 3rd Inf. Div., uses rebar to create a culvert denial system at FOB Shank, Afghanistan, June 11. Sgt. Julieanne Morse, 129th MPAD
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Sgt. Patrick Lewis, an allied trade specialist with Co, B, 703rd BSB, 4th BCT, 3rd Inf. Div., welds rebar to create a culvert denial system at FOB Shank, in Logar Province, Afghanistan, June 11. Sgt. Julieanne Morse, 129th MPAD
LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan - In a hot tent on Forward Operating Base Shank with an American flag hanging from the ceiling, works an Army welder whose recent project can help save many lives in eastern Afghanistan.

Reggae, soul music and rhythm and blues pours out of Sgt. Patrick Lewis’s stereo as he goes to work welding together rebar to create culvert denial systems.

The systems will help prevent insurgents from placing improvised explosive devices in culverts along Afghanistan’s Highway 1.

Lewis is originally from Jamaica, and moved to the United States in 2001.

He learned to weld at the Apex Technical School in Manhattan, N.Y., and joined the U.S. Army in 2007 as an allied trade specialist. He currently serves in Company B, 703rd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.

Lewis, the primary welder in Co. B, has completed many projects since arriving at FOB Shank, such as repairing radio towers and building steel gates, but this project is expanding his reach into Wardak and Logar provinces.

Preventing the emplacement of IEDs is essential in helping to prevent military and civilian casualties.

“Highway 1 is a main supply route going from (Bagram Airfield) to Ghazni, and a critical point of our mission here is to keep that safe,” 1st Lt. Shane Hook, Co. B executive officer, said.

The brigade counter-IED office passed a sketch of the system’s design down the chain of command to Lewis. Then, rebar was shipped from Bagram Airfield.

“We do just about anything – you name it,” Lewis said. “If you can come up with a picture and show us that, we can make it. It’s as simple as that.”

The static crackling sound can be heard as Lewis welds the rebar together into a cone-like shape.

Spc. Jonathan Carpenter, a wheeled vehicle mechanic in Co. B who helps Lewis when he’s not servicing vehicles, said the culvert denial system will allow water to flow through the culvert, but deny insurgents the ability to plant IEDs inside of them.

Lewis said the system would benefit all U.S. forces, as well as Afghans who travel on Highway 1.

“He’s a measure-twice, cut-once type of guy, which is good,” Hook said. “That is exactly the type you want.”

1st Sgt. Robert Walker, the Co. B first sergeant, said Lewis is one of his better noncommissioned officers.

“He takes every opportunity he can to teach Soldiers,” Walker said.

Lewis’ good reputation stems from his enjoyment of his job.

“I love what I do,” Lewis said. “This is me playing my part. If this is what I can do to prevent the loss of another U.S. service member, then I’m more than willing to contribute in whatever way I can.”
 
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