70th Today - Accounts - River Patrol
From the Three Star Final, the 70th RSC Newsletter

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- While many soldiers think of patrolling in terms of tough foot patrols on the city's streets, this group of combat engineers considers patrolling a blessing. They could be spending eight hours a day staring off into the distance beneath the blazing rays of the sun, pulling guard duty, an extremely important, but rarely well-liked job. Instead, the 671st Engineer Company, an Army Reserve unit from Portland, Ore. is a company that builds multi-purpose bridges for the military, uses their boats to patrol the murky, yet placid waters of the Tigris, where Iraqis can be found relaxing or fishing and children diving into the water to swim. "We go out on the river and make our presence known," said Sgt. Timothy Dorris, noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the patrols, 671st Engineer Company. "We want people to know we're out there. "The unit travels up and down the Tigris in their MK-2 boats, which are essentially miniature tug boats used for erecting bridges. The combat engineers have been patrolling the river since the beginning of May. "We regularly take interpreters with us," Dorris said.

Left: Spc. Jason Borgman, combat engineer, B Company, 321st Engineer Battalion, an Army Reserve unit from Spokane, Wash., scans the banks of the Tigris River on a boat patrol in Baghdad Aug. 16. Borgman is attached to the 671st Engineer Company, an Army Reserve unit from Portland, Ore. (Photo by Spc. Ryan Smith).

"We get a lot of information from people along the river. Soldiers from the unit have apprehended people smuggling illegal items on the river and found unexploded ordnance along the banks," he said. "One time, we brought out the father of a drowning victim to help him search for his son," Dorris said.

The unit has also escorted soldiers from other Army units, such as psychological operations soldiers who used the river to spread information to the Iraqi people about curfew and coalition operations. "We like doing this a lot," Dorris said. "It's a lot better than guard duty. "The soldiers have seen the result of their presence as well, he said. "Every time we've helped someone in a particular area of the river, whenever we go back, everyone waves."

Iraqis line the banks of the Tigris River, waving at the 70th Engineer Company soldiers on a boat patrol in Baghdad Aug. 16. The 671st is a 70th RRC Army Reserve unit from Portland, Ore. (Photo by Spc. Ryan Smith)

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