NEWS | March 28, 2019

Helping a community one road at a time

By Air Force Master Sgt. April Wickes, U.S. Strategic Command

As flood waters rose to record levels in Nebraska on March 15, 2019, the residents of Happy Hill in Plattsmouth became isolated and faced a dilemma: How were they going to get out?

Water flooded the only roads into the community and trees surrounded the rest. That is, until a small cadre of residents led by Pappy Dodd employed their resources and ingenuity to create a new way out.

Armed with chainsaws, tractors, Bobcats and two loads of dirt, the volunteers chose to build a primitive access road to help their newly stranded community.

“We went down by River Road [the main access road] and figured out how high we thought the water was going to rise and then we decided that if we could get some dirt, we could build a ramp road so we could get in and out of our community,” said Dodd, U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) red team conveyancer.

To build the road, Dodd and a crew of five other volunteers cut down trees, cleared out the stumps and then pushed up the dirt to where it was needed and packed it down. They also reinforced part of the road with big rocks found in the local area.

“We got the road built in a day and it was amazing. All the able-bodied guys in the community came together and everybody utilized their chainsaws and we cut, cleared, shaped the road and got people in and out,” Dodd said.

Dodd also added that his community was extremely lucky because they are on higher ground.

“Everybody around us lost everything,” Dodd said. “We were working on building the road and watching campers, trailers, motorhomes and truckloads of stuff just floating in front of us down the river.”

Dodd’s efforts and that of others in USSTRATCOM did not go unnoticed.

“The accounts of the generosity and genuine care shown by our USSTRATCOM team are incredibly moving,” said Gen. John Hyten, commander of USSTRATCOM. “The individual and team efforts to help others will restore one’s faith in humanity. The resiliency and acts of kindness make me proud to be counted among the ranks of this command.” 

Dodd stated that helping his community was an awesome experience and that everyone was incredibly grateful, but at the same time he remained humble.

“Nebraska and this whole area is great, people just kind of come together,” Dodd said. “When you have harsh weather like this and unexpected stuff happens, it builds a stronger community and people come together and figure out what needs to get done and just do it. I’m genuinely baffled that there is so much interest in my particular story, there’s a ton of great stories out there about people coming together to try to do the right thing during a hard time.”

USSTRATCOM has global responsibilities assigned through the Unified Command Plan that include strategic deterrence, nuclear operations, space operations, joint electromagnetic spectrum operations, global strike, missile defense, and analysis and targeting.

For more information, contact the USSTRATCOM Public Affairs Office at 402-294-4130 or or visit