Photo Information

Cpl. Eric McMullen, a combat engineer with Alpha Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 1 and 21-year-old native of Lake Tahoe, Calif., guides a bulldozer to fill a culvert here, Nov. 12. The Marines are currently repairing the support structure on a bridge located at a major intersection that connects Marjah and Nawa districts. The bridge receives heavy foot and vehicle traffic due to the local bazaar, as well as Afghan and coalition military convoys.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Alfred V. Lopez

Marine engineers, Afghans improve critical intersection in Marjah

16 Nov 2011 | Lance Cpl. Alfred V. Lopez 1st Marine Division

Combat engineers with Alpha Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 1 and local workers improved road conditions by repairing a key bridge here, Nov. 12.

The bridge, which needed critical foundation repairs, is vital for both local travel and military missions on a major intersection between Marjah and Nawa.

“Today’s project involves a bridge which has wing-walls that are eroding,” said 1st Lt. Steven Thomas, a platoon commander with Alpha Co., CLB-1 and a 25-year-old native of Lancaster, Calif. “Our goal is to replace those wing-walls to make them last longer and make the bridge more stable for the civilian and military traffic.”

Wing-walls provide the bridge with structure to the heavy support foot and vehicle traffic passing through the intersection.

“The water flowing through here also provides water for the farmers, and this bridge is vital to the locals traveling to the bazaar,” added Thomas.

“By improving this intersection, the travel conditions will improve for the locals, as well as our convoys that come through,” said Cpl. Logan Homstad, a fire team leader with Alpha Co., CLB-1 and a 26-year-old native of Drake, N.D.

The combat engineers managed to control local civilian traffic while completing their work, leaving local commerce unaffected.

“The biggest challenge is that it’s right next to a bazaar,” said Homstad. “There’s a lot of traffic moving around the area.”

“We have to keep the locals out of the way because there’s a lot of heavy equipment moving around,” explained Thomas. “We don’t want any of them to get hurt, as well as impeding our progress.”

Some of the locals even lent a helping hand to the Marine engineers, as they clearly understood repairs to the bridge would be beneficial to the local community, Thomas added.

The mission was easier because of the support and manpower of the locals, said Cpl. Travis Dye, a 22-year-old combat engineer and native of Jacksonville, Fla.

The Alpha Co. Marines worked expediently, digging out the existing structure with heavy equipment, and emplacing the new wing-walls that will keep the bridge supported in the years to come.

“My Marines were outstanding… They had to wade into the water, sometimes getting waste deep into the mud,” explained Thomas. “Some even had to get pulled out with the help of a few Marines, because the mud was so thick.”

The bridge is one of Alpha Co.’s many projects supporting infrastructure development here in southern Helmand.

“We’re happy to be here,” said Homstad. “We’re happy to do projects that matter.”

Editor’s note: Alpha Co., Combat Logistics Battalion1 is assigned to 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward) and is in direct support of Regimental Combat Team 5, 2nd Marine Division (Forward), which heads Task Force Leatherneck. The task force serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest) and works in partnership with the Afghan National Security Forces and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces and enabling ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area of operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.

1st Marine Division