Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Ft. Leonard Wood Museums: The Corps of Engineers

Francis here with another military postings for all you CCG fans. Beth and I recently went to Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri, which is home of the United States Army Chemical Corps, Engineers and Military Police. Recently, museums have been built to honor and show the histories of these three storied branches of the Army.

The Army Corps of Engineers.

Today, Army engineering isn't just building bridges or blowing them up. Engineers work on everything from environmental restoration and stewardship to providing a quarter of the country's hydroelectric power. When deployed overseas, the members of the CoE help build and maintain infrastructure and provide all kinds of support for war fighting Soldiers. Divers, welders, firefighters and all manner of other jobs are included in the CoE.


Essayons is French for "Let us Try", the motto of the Corps of Engineers. It is the attitude of every engineer when faced with a problem: Let me take care of it. 


Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo. has the training base for the majority of Army engineers, and the museum they have built to honor the engineering soldiers is remarkable.


This is the first scene that greets you upon entering the museum. In the early years of the Iraq war, Soldiers noticed there were bombs strapped to a bridge they were attempting to cross. They rigged a line and actually had one Soldier dangling upside down to cut the wires.


Some engineers are classified as working dog handlers. While usually used by military police, some engineers are trained to use dogs as well. For the CoE, they are primarily used as bomb/unexploded ordinance sniffing dogs or rescue dogs trained to find survivors.



Like the Chemical Corps. museum, the engineers also have high quality wax figures in all their displays. Here, Soldiers are placing Bremer Walls, better known as T-Walls due to their cross section shaping. The twelve foot tall, steel reenforced walls can be easily moved around with heavy equipment and interlocked to form a blast shield to protect from explosions and incoming fire.


This cross section shows various improvised explosive devices and the different kinds of concealment and placements used by enemy forces. While unexploded ordinance disposal isn't one of the missions of the Army engineers, they have plenty of equipment to deal with mines and explosives.


Mine flails like this work by beating the ground in front of the machine to trigger any mines in the ground. These vehicles were heavily armored to protect it and the operator from explosions.


These days the engineers have upgraded their equipment to include radio controlled robots with manipulator arms. These robots can go into dangerous situations without putting the lives of Soldiers at risk.


Army Engineer divers have modernized their equipment from these standards, but are still very actively used in underwater reconnaissance, demolitions and salvage. They also inspect bridges, tunnels and other underwater facilities.





Structural examples of permanent and semi-permanent bridges which can be built by engineers. Next to this display was a section of trestle to give you an idea of the scale of it. I couldn't photograph it well enough to portray the massive scale of these spans.

Example dioramas are all over the museum, giving a glimpse into the history and abilities of the Army engineers.


The museums are open from 10 am to 4 pm Monday through Saturday. They are on the actual base of Ft. Leonard Wood, but free and open to the public. You'll need a valid photo ID to enter the base.

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