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MOSINEE, Wis. – Wisconsin Army National Guard engineers returned June 8 to Mosinee, Wisconsin, for the second straight summer to continue building a major athletic complex there.

Soldiers from the 229th Engineer Company and Company B, 173rd Brigade Engineer Battalion, continued work on baseball and softball fields for the Mosinee School District at what will become the Mosinee Community Athletic Complex.

The first field Guard engineers started last year was completed once the fence was put up earlier in the week by a local contractor and was then opened to the public June 8. The engineer units combined assets and set up a camp in a field next to the baseball field so they could start work at sunrise and work until sundown. The Wisconsin National Guard dedicated five years to the project and hopes to complete their part of a second field by the end of their annual training this year.

sm160608-Z-OB094-156.jpg“I have a lot of confidence in the capabilities of our soldiers, and it is demonstrated each and every day of their training,” said Brig.Gen. Mark E. Anderson, deputy adjutant general for the Wisconsin Army National Guard while visiting the construction site.

“To be able to come up here and see the quality of the work that they are doing puts a big sense of pride in my own heart,” he said.

The Guard transported all of its equipment to the job site including bulldozers, scrapers, excavators and dump trucks. They will spend two weeks working on the athletic fields conducting horizontal engineering by building a parking lot for the fields while simultaneously preparing a surface for the second field. Local contractors will then come in after to complete the construction.

“For our community, we really want a place for people to gather,” said Mosinee Schools Superintendent Dr. Ann Schultz.

“We want a place where people can celebrate youth and just be together to enjoy a game,” she added. “So for our community this is an awesome, awesome complex. We are really excited to welcome back the Army National Guard.”

sm160608-Z-OB094-118.jpgCommand Sgt. Maj. Rafael Conde, senior enlisted leader of the Wisconsin National Guard, added that as Citizen Soldiers these projects allow the National Guard to reemphasize their ability and duty to be a part of and improve the communities they serve.

The National Guard has a unique dual mission as the state’s first military responder in times of emergency and as the Army’s primary combat reserve. The Guard’s commitment to both of those missions allows the organization to provide a tangible benefit to the community, while simultaneously gaining proficiency in the skills they need in combat or state emergencies. If deployed in a federal or state status, these engineers would use similar skill sets to the ones they are employing in Mosinee.

Anderson pointed out that many of the Soldiers on the work site recently served in Afghanistan. The 229th Engineer Company deployed in 2012 and returned in 2013 after building roads and forward operating bases during their mission.

sm160608-Z-OB094-042.jpg“They were over there doing road construction for some of the forward operating bases,” he said. “Of course they don’t have an active enemy here. They have the opposite – community members that want to show their appreciation.”

With a population of nearly 4,000, sports are important to Mosinee in keeping children active and families connected.

“Baseball and softball is a big thing in this town,” said Staff Sgt. Kyle Addison, of the 229th Engineer Company. “They really pack them in out there on Little League nights, and it’s just great the community loves it.”

The fields are constructed with turf that will allow for an enduring and safe field for future generations.

“We wanted to go maintenance-free,” Schultz said. “We wanted to be able to have something that was long-standing. By just investing a little bit into this, I think the children of Mosinee just reap the benefit.”

Once complete, these facilities will allow local families to take part in a great American past time for years to come.

The Guard began the Mosinee project and another project to construct a shooting range complex for the Eau Claire County Sheriff last year as part of a program that provides real-world hands-on training for the National Guard and makes a positive impact on their local communities.