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The 1138th goes on a route clearing mission

SPC Christopher Hawkins, 30, sits on his bunk in January at forward operating base Frontenac and displays the poem he wrote while he was recovering from injuries caused by an IED hitting his vehicle last month in Afghanistan. Hawkins is with the 1138th Engineering Company of the Missouri National Guard. Photo by J.B. Forbes jforbes@post-dispatch.com

FORWARD OPERATING BASE FRONTENAC, Afghanistan • In early January, Spc. Chris Hawkins, 30, and three other Missouri Guardsmen were riding in a lead gun truck when they ran over a pressure-plate IED. The blast filled their armored vehicle with dust and smacked Hawkins’ head against the ceiling.

“After we figured out we were all OK, we started laughing about it,” said Hawkins, who has a wife and two children in Foristell. “We knew it was coming. We were in the lead for so long. We just kind of figured we’d hit one.”

They had been clearing a route so a small military base could be closed in Kandahar Province.

“Kudos to the Taliban, because they had that one placed perfectly,” he added about the bomb.

During some downtime recently, Hawkins, of the 1138th Engineer Company, wrote this poem:

We get up early, way before the sun rises.

Despite the lack of sleep, dreams, and other unknown surprises.

It is our job to clear the way.

So others and equipment can travel that day.

We do not fear the enemy, although he is always near.

Waiting and watching us engineers.

He tries to find a weakness and puts us to the test.

He wants to hurt and kill us, until then he will not rest.

But we pass with flying colors, because we are the best.

We are engineers, and will always find a way.

To accomplish the mission, that was given to us that day.

Our road is never straight, it dips and curves.

It’s there where it sits and it waits, under the surface.

An explosion it will make.

It’s called an IED, it comes in different sizes and different shapes.

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It’s filled with different things, but mostly just HATE.

For us American soldiers, our lives they want to take.

It’s our job to find them and to keep everyone safe.

We are brothers at arms and our bond will never break.

At the end of the day we have no regrets, for everyone else we do protect.

And when we go home, we’ll tell our stories and drink our beers.

We were chosen for a reason.

Because we do not fear.

We are… We are… Combat Engineers.