Military training exercise brings unusual sight to Fountain City

By Madeline Sky, Weekend Meteorologist – email

FOUNTAIN CITY, Wis. (WXOW) – If you live in or drove through Fountain City on Wednesday, you may have seen a strange sight; dozens of army vehicles and a temporary, floating bridge on the Mississippi.

The floating bridge was part of a training exercise for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“This is what they enjoy,” said Company Commander Christopher Padin. “So the feedback is they always want to get on the water whenever the opportunity comes.”

The drill was designed to hone-in on real world skills that can be used in combat settings or even natural disasters.

“It becomes muscle memory,” said Corporal Carlos Melendez. “So if we do go, and we’re in a combat situation, we don’t have to think about it, just react.”

The bridge itself comes in sections, and is more like a raft when completed because it doesn’t stretch from shore to shore. This is done on purpose so the army can control the movement from one side of the river to the other.

“We don’t want to have the bridge at all times,” said Corporal Carlos Melendez. “That way we can actually control transit on the river. If we were in a combat situation we would only take friendly forces across the river.”

The sections are unloaded directly into the water, where they are corralled using boats, and eventually connected together.

“It takes years to build and actual bridge,” said Corporal Melendez. “We have the capability of doing it in less than an hour and get supplies or whatever is needed on the other side of the river.”

In a real world situation, this kind of floating bridge could be used to transport vehicles, troops and supplies.

Today’s drill was a little extra tricky because of the temperature. It made the exercise more dangerous for the soldiers but it also gave them valuable experience.

“We need to be prepared to deploy in all types of weather environments,” said Company Commander Padin. “It’s not just warm weather we deal with.”

“My personal experience today was a success,” said Corporal Carlos Melendez. “Complete success.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be in Fountain City again on Thursday for more drills on the river. They want to remind the public that this is military training. If you want to watch, you’ll have to do it at a good distance away