News: Military engineers celebrate holiday with festive competition
Story by Pfc. Kasey Peacock
CAMP HANSEN, Japan - Engineers annually celebrate the life of St. Patrick, the patron saint of engineers, on St. Patrick’s Day.
Students with the Missouri University of Science and Technology formalized the celebration in 1903, and it has since increased in popularity to become a tradition in some U.S. military engineering units.
Marines with 9th Engineer Support Battalion hosted their own field meet inviting six Okinawa-based units with engineering capabilities, including Air Force and Navy units, March 15 at Camp Hansen.
“Based on the amount of exercises and operations we conduct together as engineers, this event was a great opportunity for us to continue to build rapport through friendly competition,” said Sgt. Maj. Thomas M. Burkhardt, the sergeant major of 9th ESB, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
“It was great to see the engineers from different branches come out here and give it all they have in the competitions. It reflected all our engineers’ fighting spirit and willingness to accomplish the task.”
The field meet consisted of different events relating to the engineering field, including a sway-brace throw, find-the-rebar challenge, blarney stone toss, bangalore rush and chariot race. The meet also included more traditional events, such as a tug-of-war competition, several relay races, a tire flip and a truck pull in which competitors had to tow a 7-ton truck 100 meters.
Each team earned points according to how it placed within individual events. After all events were completed, Marine Wing Support Squadron 172 was crowned the winner.
“Even though we didn’t win, it was great to get out there and spend time with my engineering brothers and sisters,” said Seaman Lacey A. Barnes, a constructionman with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 5.
“It was great to interact and come together for a friendly day of competition.”
During the event’s lunch break, staff noncommissioned and commissioned officers played a game of softball. Lt. Gen. Kenneth J. Glueck, Jr., commanding general of III MEF, joined the game to pitch an inning for each team.
Regardless of the branch of service, engineers have led the way in countless exercises and operations, according to Air Force Lt. Col. Bryan C. Opperman, the commander of the 18th Civil Engineer Squadron, 18th Wing.
“Whether we are supporting or maneuvering (during) operations, engineers lead the way and play a huge part in our nation’s military,” said Opperman. “The biggest takeaway from today was everyone out here getting to know each other and having fun, which makes the engineering community stronger.”