COMBAT OUTPOST FALCON, Iraq -- Heavy-equipment operators and combat engineers shifted from their normal operations to engage in construction missions supporting the ground combat element.
Marines with Engineer Company, Marine Wing Support Squadron 373, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) left the confines of Al Taqaddum for the first time to improve conditions at COP Falcon.
“I’m so glad that we were able to come out here and support the (infantry) by developing their combat outpost,” said Pfc. William J. Parker, a mechanic with Heavy Equipment Platoon, Engineer Company and a native of Phoenix. “I am living the dream.”
Accomplishing much-needed improvements, the engineers worked hard and successfully provided a face lift to the outpost. The facilities currently house infantry Marines from 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5, 1st Marine Division.
One of the team’s tasks was to improve the roads by placing gravel over the fine sand, commonly referred to as “moon-dust,” for better traction.
Using heavy equipment such as front loaders and steam rollers, the Marines didn’t waste any time to begin the project.
“When we came out here, we just immediately started working,” said Cpl. Christopher M. Nelson, 22, an operator with Heavy Equipment Platoon and a native of Kennewick, Wash. He mentioned the Marines maintained a steadfast work pace ignoring the extended work hours.
What began as uneven terrain difficult to maneuver flourished into a newly flattened, dust-free throughway. Making the camp accessible to the many delivery, maintenance and military vehicles traveling the camp, the project was a welcomed challenge for these Marines.
“It gives me and my Marines a feeling of purpose,” said Sgt. Alexander L. Victorino, 27, hygiene-equipment operator with Utilities Platoon, Engineer Company. “I love coming out here. It’s given me such a rush.”
Additionally keeping safety and comfort in mind, the Marines built an emergency helicopter landing pad and installed new hygiene facilities.
“It was a pleasure to provide the infantry with showers and water along with the road project,” said Victorino, a Newport Beach, Calif., native.
Expressing a sense of accomplishment, the Marines said they will return to Camp Taqaddum knowing they improved the lifestyle for a few of these well-deserving “Betio Bastards” based in the Al Anbar province.
“Sun up to sun down, they worked to get that road up,” said Capt. Alexandra K. Nielsen, company commander of Engineer Company and a native of Tucson, Ariz. “No matter what job they do, they put their heart into it.”