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Army engineers shelter Marines in Iraq

Marine Corps News

Story Identification #: 200511511313
Story by Sgt. Enrique S. Diaz

CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq (Jan. 15, 2005) -- A group of soldiers here are making the cold season - and life in general - a little easier on the Marines of the 1st Force Service Support Group.

The 120th Engineer Combat Battalion, a National Guard unit from Oklahoma, is building Southwest Asia huts, known as SWA huts, for the Marines who live and work aboard the camp. A total of 112 of the shelters have been erected, with another ten being completed within a week to replace a city of tents.

The wooden huts are designed to keep Marines cooler when Iraq's temperatures reach up to 130 degrees and warmer during the winter nights of 30 degrees.

The walls of the SWA huts comprise of two-inch layer of Styrofoam within each wall and another two-inch thick layer of insulation along the sheet metal ceiling to trap in heat during the winter and keep it out during the summer.

Aside from the added comfort, the huts will also be replacing tents that are nearing the end of their serviceability.

"The tents have been here for over two summers and are starting to deteriorate because of the sun, which affects everything out here," said Army 1st Lt. Aaron T. Corbett, a 27-year-old Oklahoma City, Okla., native and officer-in-charge of the SWA hut project.

"It just makes life a little bit more comfortable here in Iraq," said Corbett.

Although the new huts offer Marines here more comfortable and protective living quarters, they provide less space than the tents.

The width of the huts are 16 feet, two feet less than the tents.

Despite the smaller living space, the huts do not have center beams like the tents, so more room can be used to arrange beds, furniture and personal belongings.

Aside from the compromise in space, Marines appreciate the benefits the huts provide.

"It does stay warmer, you don't have to tighten them (tents are anchored with ropes that often loosen themselves), and SWA huts are easier to clean," said Lance Cpl. Brian T. Due, a 23-year-old Long Island, N.Y., native.

The wooden huts offer better protection against the rain and other elements as well, said Corbett.

Construction of the SWA huts is one of the final projects for the 120th's engineers. The unit will return to the U.S. in several weeks, ending their one year tour in Iraq.

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