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Lance Cpl. Jesse G. Mudd, 20, a welder with Combat Logistics Battalion 3, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), inspects his work after welding metallic siding to a bridge in Durzay, Afghanistan, Jan. 22. Mudd, a native of Smith Center, Kansas, is the only metal worker for CLB-3's Engineer Company. While deployed to Afghanistan, Mudd has played a key role in several military construction projects for coalition units as well as civil development projects for the Afghan community.

Photo by Cpl. Daniel H. Woodall

CLB-3’s ‘Metal Man’: Marine uses welding skills to improve Helmand province

15 Feb 2011 | Cpl. Daniel H. Woodall

A generator’s hum followed by an intense flash of light means only one thing to the Marines of Combat Logistics Battalion 3’s Engineer Company: Lance Cpl. Jesse G. Mudd is working.

While deployed aboard Camp Dwyer and various locations throughout Afghanistan’s Helmand province, Mudd serves as the only metal worker and welder for Engineer Company, CLB-3, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward). For the past four months, the 20-year-old native of Smith Center, Kan., has established himself as a mission-critical asset for several engineering projects throughout Helmand province.

Engineering and civil development projects, including bridge construction and road repair, often require steel reinforcement in order to create more permanent structures for coalition forces and Afghan civilians.

Given the constant demand for these projects, CLB-3’s Engineer Company calls upon Mudd to employ his welding skills. With no welding experience prior to joining the Marine Corps, Mudd has since attained a great appreciation for the craft.

After completing high school in 2008 with only 31 fellow graduates, Mudd enlisted in the Marine Corps to serve his country and gain some valuable life experience. According to Mudd, the most accurate portrayal of his small-town upbringing can be summed up by detailing the proximity of well-known establishments to his home town. For instance, one would have to travel nearly 90 miles to reach the nearest Wal-Mart or McDonald’s restaurant – a disturbing thought for some people.

“Smith Center is an amazing town,” Mudd said. “Everyone knows everyone, everyone cares for each other – It’s just home. It’s a small community, but no matter where life takes you, you never feel like you’re home until you go back there.”

Since CLB-3’s arrival in Afghanistan in October, Mudd has used his welding skills in the construction of five bridges and various other projects to give coalition and Afghan personnel greater mobility in southern Afghanistan.

“Welding is a good trade, and the Marine Corps has given me the tools to succeed when I go back home,” Mudd said. “Welding is a little more difficult while deployed – every mission has [different] requirements so I just have to make it work. I also try to assist in other aspects of combat engineering – whether that involves heavy equipment vehicles or manual labor – whatever it takes to get the mission done.”

With the amount of time CLB-3’s Engineer Company spends operating in forward areas, Mudd is grateful to be able to help the Afghan people and complete projects without interference from Taliban insurgents. Rather than citing good fortune, Mudd attributes each site’s security to the hard working Marines operating in Helmand and those within his own company.

“Afghanistan has been quite an eye-opener,” Mudd said. “Being out here makes you appreciate what you had before. When the temperature drops down in the 20s and we’re trying to finish our work in the middle of [Helmand province], you start to realize certain things you’ve taken for granted. This deployment isn’t over, but I’m proud of the Marines in my company and the work we’ve done.”


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