October 10th, 2006 11:12 EST
Navy volunteers helping USACE rebuild Iraq
CAMP FALLUJAH — The Army Corps of Engineers was recently augmented by some senior enlisted Navy members who volunteered to help rebuild cities within the Al-Anbar province in Western Iraq.
Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate Handler Michael Yule has now found himself playing a vital role in the rebuilding of the provincial cities of Al-Asaad, Ramadiand and Fallujah.
“Right now we’re rebuilding more than 50 new houses in Fallujah,” said Yule, a native of Pittsburgh. “We’re also repairing roads and coordinating the expansion of office and living spaces on camp and building billboards that promote the Iraqi army and police.”
The Corps arrived at Camp Fallujahin 2004. Since then, it has helped to coordinate dozens of projects —all aimed at rebuilding the war-damaged country.
“We’re building a whole new electrical grid system in Fallujah,”said Yule. “We’re also giving them an in door plumbing and a sewage system that works.”
Yule coordinates projects between the Camp Fallujah’s Corps of Engineers area office and local and regional companies. Because he’s one of only two Sailors attached to this unit, he often finds himself doing more than coordinating. “I coordinate, but I’m also the manpower,” said Yule, an 18-year Navy veteran.
“We have a large spectrum of people who are trying to make these projects work, but often I’m they guy who’s also out there helping to build these projects.”
For a Sailor who has spent the majority of his career around aircraft, it may seem unusual to find him managing the construction of sewage lines in the middle of the desert. However, Yule says it was just a matter of raising his hand.
“I was the command career counselor at the time,” he said. “We kept receiving requests for someone to fill this billet and after no one responded, it looked like they were going to pull one of the guys who just arrived at the command within recent months. So I stepped up and said I’d do it.”
Like many individual volunteers Yule is taking six months away from his current shore duty to assist in the U.S. and coalition efforts.
“I love it when the kids run out to see us when we arrive,” said Yule with a smile. “The workers come up to us, shake our hands and slap us on the back. You can sense the general feeling toward the U.S. and Coalition changing for the better. “
And to be a part of it,” said Yule, “you can’t beat it.”