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8th ESB Marines establish gate to the future

Marine Corps News

Story Identification #: 200551653519
Story by Staff Sgt. Amy S. Contreras

CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq (May 14, 2005) -- Ten Marines from Heavy Equipment Platoon, Support Company, 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2d Force Service Support Group (Forward), recently enhanced force protection for Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces alike by establishing a new Entry Control Point on Camp Habbaniyah.

“The Marines worked hard with what they had and got the job done in a good timeframe,” said Staff Sgt. James L. Pardee, mission commander and Escanaba, Mich., native.

The project, which was clearing debris and rubble to build a new entry control point, road, staging area and berm, was completed in less than a week.

Not only did the Marines establish a new ECP, they also built a staging area for incoming convoys, bringing supplies needed to support the base, and a berm for added protection from insurgents.

Having this particular ECP completed ensures there is better force protection and safety aboard the base and this enables the Coalition Military Assistance Training Team the ability to train the ISF in relative safety.

“We are doing something that gives the ISF a safer place to train,” Pardee said. “That in itself makes us proud to do our part.”

The completion of this particular project marks HE Platoon’s success of pushing, hauling and loading more than 5,000 cubic yards of soil and debris since deploying here. This may seem overwhelming to some but not to these Marines who are proud to be doing their part in the big scheme of things here in Iraq.

“I’m a Marine and it’s what I do,” said Sgt. Joshua Merriman, Beckley, W.Va., native and project manager. “We are here to help the Iraqis stabilize their own country and it feels good to be able to get them on the right path.”

During the week the Marines built the new ECP, they stayed on Camp Habbaniyah and they were able to see things from a different vantage point from just being on Camp Taqaddum.

“We are able to interact with Iraqis, it’s nice to be able to talk to the locals,” Merriman said. “My Marines get to see the CMATT training the ISF and that we are here [in country] for a purpose.”

Although the Marines’ focus has been on accomplishing the mission, they were called upon recently to help in another way aboard the base. There was a wildfire burning near the coalition billeting areas and the HE Platoon Marines came to the rescue by creating two firebreaks.

“Without them there would have been significant risk to human life,” said Maj. Chris Luke, senior advisor, Advisory Support Team, Base Support Unit.

Although the Marines are finished with this project, they have many more in store before they redeploy back to the United States and to them it is all part of the job. “I feel proud of what I can do over here helping Iraqis and being able to make it a safer place for them,” said Lance Cpl. Patrick Doll, a Madison, Wis., native. “I really enjoy doing it.”


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