MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. – LAY. HO. HEAVE. Marines with Bridge Company, 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, chanted the preparatory commands as they lifted and moved parts of a bridge in unison, demonstrating their bridging capability to 1st Marine Expeditionary Force leadership during Exercise Desert Scimitar 2014 aboard Twentynine Palms, Calif., May 16, 2014.
DS 14 is an annual exercise led by 1st Marine Division, in which 1st MLG serves as their tactical logistics support. The bridge they built provided transportation across a 66-foot gap, allowing Marines with 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Mar. Div., to assault the enemy in this year’s training scenario.
“We built a Medium Girder Bridge, which is capable of spanning anywhere from 20 feet to over 145 feet,” said 1st Lt. Dwight McGurdy, bridge platoon commander, Bridge Co., 7th ESB, 1st MLG.
The MGB is particularly useful due to its ease of transportation as well as its ability to withstand the weight of the heaviest military equipment.
“This bad boy can allow pretty much anything from a convoy of 7-tons and Humvees to Abram tanks and trailers hauling artillery across it,” said Cpl. Jervis Hettrick, bridge master, Bridge Co., 7th ESB, 1st MLG.
As the bridge master, Hettrick played a critical role in the construction of the bridge, providing junior Marines with direction and ensuring everyone’s safety in the process.
“Hettrick is a no-nonsense Marine who is dedicated fully to completing the mission, which sometimes means setting aside others’ wants and needs in order to see the mission through to the end,” said Staff Sgt. Timothy Liners, operations chief for Bridge Co.
As a unit that supports 1st MEF, 7th ESB wanted to demonstrate the mobility aspect that engineers provide in an expeditionary environment.
“For example, if [an infantry] unit sees an avenue of approach they want to take across a wet or dry gap, we build the bridge and they continue pursuing the enemy,” said McGurdy, a native of Tavernier, Fla.
In addition to providing that mobility for the infantry units, the MGB is built piece-by-piece, so if the bridge were bombed, for example, only the pieces that received the damage would need to be replaced. Each piece weighs 380-600 lbs., making it a challenging, but manageable weight for Marines to maneuver during construction and repair of a bridge.
“Given the adverse conditions that my Marines faced with the heat and terrain, my Marines performed on an exemplary level,” said Liners, a native of Brooklyn Park, Minn.
According to Liners, this bridging exercise reinforced the confidence of leadership at 1st Mar. Div. and I MEF, showcasing the capability of Bridge Co. in maintaining mobility in expeditionary environments.