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Pouring concrete the old-fashioned way: by bucket

  • Published
  • By Capt. Holly Hess
A broken concrete pumper truck didn't stop members of New Horizons from pouring concrete at the construction site of Trial Farm Government School May 15.

Originally, a concrete pumper truck was scheduled to pour concrete into the stay-in-place concrete wall system the week prior. However, the electrical circuit of that truck burned up after pouring 68 cubic yards of concrete. The only truck available to finish the job was a concrete pumper truck with an inoperable hydraulic boom.

The construction project required an additional 33 cubic yards of concrete to be poured in the walls in order to continue construction of the classrooms and keep the project on schedule.

To finish the job, the New Horizons team would need to use a little bit of creativity and sweat equity to pour the concrete using the resources they had available.

Many members of New Horizons volunteered to lend a hand to pour concrete by bucket to include members of the Belize Defence Force, the New Horizons construction team from Ladyville Technical High School, and the New Horizons support staff including members from the legal office, civil affairs, the tactical operations center and public affairs.

"Everybody wanted to get their hands in and help out," said Senior Master Sgt. Joel Shepherd, New Horizons 1st Sgt. "I don't think too many organizations out there would take that challenge on."

Once the concrete left the truck, it had to be moved approximately 30 yards into the wall.

"We would turn the concrete on, and the concrete would flow into the bucket ... We would pick up the bucket and start passing it down to where it needed to be poured into the wall," said Shepherd. "Because we were dealing with a truck, you couldn't just turn the truck off. It was a very fast pace."

Members of New Horizons received more than just concrete training that day.

"It was pretty messy. Everybody had concrete on their face, their clothes, down their shirt ... and made no complaints," said Shepherd.

Everybody knew the job was to get concrete in the wall, Shepherd said.

"It didn't always mean having a bucket in your hand. There were folks with shovels cleaning up the messes. There were folks with hoses and brushes wiping down the walls. There were folks providing water and finding tools," he said. "Everybody found a way to add value to the team.

"There is something very attractive about watching that many people from that many diverse skills come together for one specific purpose," said Shepherd. "If it wasn't for the teamwork and dedication, we would not have gotten that concrete where it needed to be."

The team finished pouring the 33 cubic yards of concrete by mid-afternoon, which is approximately equal to typical encyclopedias stacked on top of each other 60-stories high.

New Horizons is a U.S. Southern Command exercise that gives U.S., Canadian and Belizean personnel an opportunity to train jointly in an exercise setting in order to be prepared to meet future challenges. Personnel are providing medical and dental care, as well as constructing four educational buildings throughout Belize as part of the training.