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Two Marines with General Support Platoon, Company B, 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 5, make use of the early sunrise light and unload pre-fabricated rafter forms from the back of a trailer near the city of Haditha, Iraq, Dec 15. The engineers worked in three teams of cutting, off-loading and constructing in order to erect the wooden huts in a timely fashion. The huts will be used by Iraqi Security Forces who will man a nearby Traffic Control Point. ::r::::n::

Photo by Lance Cpl. Paul M. Torres

Engineers provide quarters

23 Dec 2008 | Lance Cpl. Paul Torres 1st Marine Division

The sun had barely crested the horizon when Marines with General Support Platoon, Company B, 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 5 started work Dec 14.

“Our mission consisted of building two wooden huts at different Traffic Control Points for the Iraqi Security Forces, one near (Combat Outpost) Haqlaniyah and the other near COP Haditha,” said Staff Sgt. Andrew J. Cordova, 30, from Clovis, N.M., who is the platoon commander for General Support Platoon. “We did a site survey to determine the best spot to build the wooden huts so it would benefit the troops who would actually be living there.”

The operation took two days for the Marines from 1st CEB to complete.

“After we did the site survey, all of the gear was off-loaded and we started setting up the flooring and the forms,” said Cordova.  “We had three different crews working, one off-loading crew, one setup crew and one cutting crew.”

Although the major components for the huts had been pre-formed, assembling them together would require the Marines to draw upon their skills as engineers and knowledge of carpentry.

“A lot of it was just piecing it together and then making adjustments where it needed it,” said Cpl. Jeffrey J. Bauer, 25, from Random Lake, Wis., who is the acting platoon sergeant for General Support Platoon. “We had to improvise a little because some of the pieces had been damaged, but I have previous building experience, and thanks to the simple construction of a wooden hut, we just adjusted some of the pieces to fit.”

Even though this would be the first time any of the engineers had built this type of structure, they were able to finish two days ahead of schedule.

“The first hut we built, I estimate, took about eight hours to set up and the second one was about seven hours,” said Cordova. “That was our first two huts we built, but we are engineers and it is a common trait for us to use our carpentry skills.”

The engineers with general support platoon are deployed to the al-Anbar province of Iraq to help provide support in a myriad of different ways.

“We do TCP upgrades and we actually teach an Iraqi Security Forces class where they built a few wooden huts,” said Cordova. “It took them about a day and a half to complete. We also do Traffic Control Point upgrades and we are working with the Iraqi route clearance.”

1st Marine Division