Local Contractors Help Rebuild Iraq - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

04/13/04

Local Contractors Help Rebuild Iraq

Many of those who have been attacked or abducted in Iraq are contractors who are there to rebuild the country. And contractors from Savannah are among them. They are both civilians and military, and all are members of the Army Corps of Engineers. There have been different groups rotating to and from Iraq for the past year.

The corps' everyday work in Savannah includes dredging part of the Savannah River, but some members are now in the midst of all the turmoil in Iraq. "We have 11 people deployed from the Savannah district currently in Iraq," said Billy Birdwell from the local district.

All are trying to help rebuild the country. "Some of them are contracting officials, some of them are project managers, we have some people in resource management," explained Birdwell.

Many of the men and women are civilians who work for private companies here, and they are being rejected by militants in the Middle East. Seven American contractors from other parts of the country are missing right now, including one who has been kidnapped.

"We have a concern for all the people deployed on the war on terrorism," said Birdwell. "We're especially concerned about our folks since it's so close to us."

The men and women go through intensive training as soon as they arrive in Iraq on security and safety, from attire to where to stay. "Where is a safe and secure zone, how to recognize enemy weapons and how to recognize bombs along the way," said Birdwell.

The local contractors that have come back say the training helps. "We've talked with some folks that have come back from there and they've been trained well so we are less concerned now that we know that," Birdwell told us.

The Corps of Engineers is offering support groups to the families in case they need help during this tough time.

Reported by: Kim Angelastro, kangelastro@wtoc.com

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