Friday, April 18, 2008

Strong NCOs key to engineers’ success in Iraq

Staff Sgt. Bobbie Bryant

AL-TAQADDUM, Iraq (April 16, 2008) – Over 21,300 man-hours performed by a handful of combat engineers led by four noncommissioned officers added up to one thing for their mission in Iraq-success.

Engineer Company, Marine Wing Support Squadron 272, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), can take pride in their Marines’ efforts as they wrap up a seven-month deployment at Camp Al-Taqqadum, Iraq, this month.

The company completed over 200 projects by creating four construction project teams that included Marines with combat engineers, utilities and heavy equipment platoons.

Gunnery Sgt. Jason R. Gillespie, Construction Platoon’s staff noncommissioned officer in charge, attributes the unit’s success to the many strong NCOs who led their own project team.

“This is by far the strongest core of noncommissioned officers that I have ever had the pleasure of working with. They are a solid group of Marines,” said Gillespie, a Dixie, Wash., native. “They have the ability to adapt and overcome no matter what the situation is. They took charge of the tasks they were given. I could send out a corporal or a sergeant as a project leader with a group of seven to eight Marines and they always finished ahead of time and exceeded my expectations.”

One project alone took over 7,000 man-hours as they made rapid repairs to the runway. The repairs were completed in small sections so they did not interfere with normal operations.

“That job wasn’t always a pleasant experience,” said Sgt. Joshua M. Junge, a Construction Platoon team leader, from Deshler, Ohio. “We were in winds at approximately 30 mph and the temperature was in the teens during winter months. We were running a jack hammer and pouring concrete. We had to constantly be moving.”

If planes cannot land or taxi, then supplies and troops cannot get where they need to be in a timely matter. According to the NCOs, their Marines understand and relish the fact that repairing the runway is essential to the overall mission here.

Even though the airfield was a huge project for the Marines, they were able to provide many services necessary to support the air combat element. Some of the other projects were: reconnaissance and survey, construction and maintenance of mission-essential base requirements such as bunkers, aircraft parking areas, and billeting.

Marines also had a hand in multiple smaller projects such as roofs, decks, offices and awnings. They made repairs to office walls and the gym and installed windows, framed A/C units, and drafted helicopter landing zones, to name a few.

The team leaders spoke highly of their Marines, pointing out what contributed to their mission accomplishments.

“We had a lot of hard workers who adapted to the conditions and workload. They overcame the challenges and were flexible. They took things in stride as some of the projects were mentally challenging for them,” said Sgt. Derek A. Kenney, a team leader with Construction Platoon., who hails from St. Petersburg, Fla. “This deployment has taught me a lot about what one team of Marines can accomplish.”

As a result of the efforts from the engineers, one look around Al-Taqaddum and the surrounding area is solid proof that these Marines have greatly contributed to the growth and development here. Not only did they leave their boot prints but they left a lasting impression to be enjoyed by service members and Iraqi citizens.

1 comment:

Helen said...

What can I say? You guys are awesome!!!!