HIT, Iraq -- Navy seabees and Marines from Regimental Combat Team-2 and soldiers from Task Force 2-114, Mississippi National Guard, repaired a section of bridge here yesterday that was heavily damaged by an insurgent car bomb September 4.
The bridge spans the Euphrates River connecting Hit to the suburb of At Turbah on the eastside of the river.
Navy seabees conducted site surveys and assessments on the bridge and decided the best way to get the two cities connected again was by prefabricating a patch for the bridge to repair the damaged section.
“They rehearsed the move in and repair several times prior to movement to the site,” according to Navy Lt. Cmdr. Darcy Wolfe, assistant operations officer, 30 Naval Construction Regiment.
The citizens of Hit received a huge morale boost when the seabees and Marines of Regimental Combat Team – 2 appeared on the scene, geared up and ready to repair the vital infrastructure.
The 1st Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 7th Iraqi Army Division (or 1-2-7 IA) provided security by cordoning the bridge on both sides of the river and erecting barriers and defensive schemes that will protect the bridge against future incidents.
“Actual construction took three days – two days to perform the second site survey, confirm all measurements, pre-fab the solution and rehearse. The final day was transporting the solution to the site and performing the repairs to the bridge, which took approximately four hours,” said Wolfe.
The mood in Hit was described by the sailors as ‘good and the citizens appeared extremely pleased’ now that the inconvenience they had suffered for the past month has been rectified.
“We had one sniper round come in after we were off the bridge, but it hit the bridge and no one was injured. I guess the bad guys slept in too late and missed the opportunity,” said Navy Lt. Richard Windham, Alpha Company commander, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion-22.
The bridge will be open to pedestrian traffic only, until after the Oct. 15 referendum at which point it will be opened to controlled vehicular traffic.
Late morning on Sept. 4, Marines witnessed a white Suburban stop in the middle of the bridge, moments later an explosion echoed through the city. When the fire and smoke cleared a large section of the aging bridge was missing and the citizens of At Turbah were effectively cut off from the city, eliminating their shortest route to the local hospital.
Marines and Iraqi soldiers began providing permanent presence in Hit in late July when the joint force rolled through the city during Operation Saif (Sword). Since then the soldiers and Marines have been conducting routine patrols and targeted raids against suspected terrorists.
Al Qaeda in Iraq terrorists have been using an intense murder and intimidation campaign focused at discouraging Iraqi citizens from voting in the referendum and cooperating with coalition forces.