PATROL BASE EREDVI, Afghanistan --
More than 100 Marines from Engineer Company, 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward) completed their largest mission to date in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, here, July 15.
Patrol Base Eredvi, manned primarily by troops from the Republic of Georgia, underwent multiple construction projects that included moving the helicopter landing zone and adding a firing point for a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System.
“We’ve expanded the base by 1,000 feet to the north, 400 to the south and 450 to the west,” said Capt. Anthony Rowley, company commander, Engineer Co., 8th ESB. “We added a new 120mm mortar site and an area for HIMARS.”
Additionally, the Marines added six guard towers for security and a location for the Persistent Threat Detection System. This system is a blimp that provides additional surveillance for coalition forces by using cameras to track movement in outlying areas. Together, all of these projects became a major task for the Marines of Engineer Co.
“This is the biggest mission I’ve done out of four combat deployments,” said Sgt. Darrell Elisaia, squad leader, 1st Plt., Engineer Co., 8th ESB. “There was so much [heavy equipment] work just to get the force protection for the [Hesco barriers] and the berms.”
The Marines worked during the long, hot day and into the darkest hours of the night to complete the new projects and push out the perimeter.
“We were doing 24-hour operations to help the job go faster,” said Elisaia. “The hardest parts about this mission were the landing zone and the HIMARS because they required so much heavy equipment support."
During the mission, Marines experienced various challenges. Some of the machinery had mechanical issues which slowed down the operation. Also, the timeline for completion was cut by five days. Despite these obstacles, the group overcame adversity.
“Even though our deadline moved closer, I knew we would still get the mission accomplished,” said Elisia. “Of all my deadlines, I’ve never missed one.”
Once the equipment was up and running, the Marines were quick to get back on track.
“As a sergeant, I am supposed to task my corporals and make sure we have enough people out there getting the job done,” said Elisaia. “The platoon works really well together and my team did a great job accomplishing their mission.”
While 1st Plt. started the mission by themselves, they were later joined by 2nd Plt. to help increase the rate of progress during the large operation.
“We came out here to assist 1st Plt. and provide security,” said Sgt. Travis Moser, combat engineer, 2nd Plt., Engineer Co., 8th ESB. “We helped with whatever they needed, like building latrines and hygiene tables. Most of the operation was [done with] heavy equipment but we helped with everything else.”
In just over two weeks, the group completed their mission, met their deadline and remained ready for their next project. The group spent more than 18,000 man hours working tirelessly to finish their biggest mission so far.