Nat’l Guard Engineer Company from Baraga training in Latvia

Courtesy:  Capt. Doug Halleaux, Michigan Army National Guard.

SAUKA, LATVIA — The Michigan Army National Guard’s Combat Engineers joined their Latvian Army counterparts in the demolition of two towers near Sauka, Latvia.

The cooperative effort is part of preparatory training for Operation Silver Arrow, a multinational Latvian-led training exercise in conjunction with United States Army-Europe and Operation Atlantic Resolve.

Latvian sappers took the lead while the Michigan Engineers shared tips and learned techniques while assisting in explosives placement and site preparation,.

“In this particular demo site, we have a wooden tower. It’s approximately twenty three meters high, and it is dangerous to the locals here so we’re taking it down,” Latvian Combat Engineer Cpl. Aivis Marheis said.

The soldiers demolished two towers, one wooden tower and a concrete block water tower. Although the wooden tower eventually came down, it took a couple of tries.

Sergeant David Smith from the 1431st Engineer Company in Baraga was the trigger man on the first attempt.

“I thought I blew up the building. I was really excited, and I had a lot of energy. But when I got back, they said, “turn around,” I realized the tower was still standing,” he said.

The rotted wood on the tower had absorbed too much of the blast, but more explosives were quickly added and the job was soon complete.

The follow-up concrete tower demolition went down without a hitch.