For the son of an Archbold woman, helping secure America’s borders meant enduring 12-hour work days in desert conditions where dust, sandstorms and extreme heat are common.
Michael V. Wilson, a U.S. Army private and the son of Patricia Masales, rural Archbold, was recently part of an Army engineer support mission.
He and other members of his unit helped repair and upgrade more than three miles of road along the U.S.- Mexico border in the San Diego, Calif., sector, near the Tecate Port of Entry.
Wilson, a heavy construction equipment operator, is assigned to the 82nd Engineer Support Company, 65th Engineer Battalion, 130th Engineer Brigade. The unit is based at the Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
“I am here helping expand the roads in support of the border patrol,” Wilson said.
Joint Task Force North, a Department of Defense organization headquartered at Fort Bliss, El Paso, Texas, coordinates the support missions.
Active duty and reserve units, along with individual assets from all branches of the armed forces, typically tackle such jobs.
The missions consist of road construction and improvements, installing border perimeter lighting, border fence construction, the construction of vehicle barriers, and road improvements.
They are long-term operations that may take several months or years to complete.
Such types of missions are twofold for Wilson.
They provide an opportunity to gain valuable and unique training experiences in “real-world” military construction, mission planning, deployment, execution, and redeployment.
They also help secure the country’s borders, by improving the mobility and safety of the border patrol agents. Agents are on patrol 24 hours a day, responding to suspected illegal activities along the border.
“When my unit and I arrived here, the road we were going to repair was quite narrow and very rocky,” said Wilson.
“It was very difficult for the border patrol to navigate and travel at high speeds. Now the road is much more stable for them to travel on.”
Besides providing Wilson with training opportunities, the missions also teach units how to work in a joint military and civilian environment, environments that they will encounter on deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I am getting much more proficient on all of the equipment," he said.
"My goal by the time I leave here is to get so much experience that I will be able to teach and show others what I know."
Editor’s Note: The Department of Defense Joint Hometown News Service provided this article.
A chuckle a day may not keep the doctor away, but it sure does make those times in life’s waiting room a little more bearable.–Anne Wilson Schaef