HAWAS, Iraq --
A routine mission for combat engineers usually involves large concrete barriers and concertina wire, but recently they dropped off much more precious commodities here … Marines.
The engineers, utility specialists and heavy-equipment operators with Charlie Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 1, 1st Marine Logistics Group, are based out of Camp Fallujah and provide infrastructure and personnel support throughout Al Anbar province.
A convoy operation early Friday morning confirmed this when the company moved five of their highly specialized Marines to Hawas, a small forward operating base near Ramadi.
Four of them will maintain the base’s water purification system. Cpl. Nestor H. Ramirez, a generator mechanic with the company, will ensure the system has the power it needs to pump clean water to the FOB.
“I feel comfortable about going,” said Ramirez, 20, from Orange County, Calif. He knew he’d be the only generator mechanic at the base but said he’s not concerned with tackling the assignment.
“It’s all stuff I’ve done before,” Ramirez said.
The five Marines are planning to stay at FOB Hawas for the duration of their deployment.
More than 100 Marines and Sailors with Charlie Co. deployed to Camp Fallujah in mid-February and expect to be involved in a variety of missions over the next six months.
They build and repair roads, install force-protection barriers and maintain utilities for FOBs and checkpoints in and around Fallujah.
Along with providing personnel support in Hawas, they also swapped a generator and recovered a downed Humvee. It’s the type of mission they’re likely to see again, but not one they’re limited to.
As the theater around them changes, so does the company’s objective. The level of violence in the once-volatile Anbar province continues to plummet, and engineers have begun to demilitarize certain communities by removing the same concrete barriers and concertina wire they once worked diligently to put in place.
Staff Sgt. Alfredo M. Arano, motor-transportation chief with Charlie Company and convoy commander during Friday’s mission, said the shift in objective is something he looks forward to supporting.
“We aim to reinforce or rebuild the structures already out there,” said Arano, a 33-year-old from Las Vegas. “But we also want to help the Iraqis take their country back.”
At the end of the 10-hour night mission to FOB Hawas, the sun was climbing the morning sky and the Marines were ready for a hard-earned nap. Arano congratulated them on a job well done. He went over their strengths and touched on some things to improve.
They’ll have the next six months to work out the details.