News: I MHG combat engineers – American craftsmen at work
Story by Sgt. James Mercure
CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- It may come as a surprise to find the Marines, typically found leading a patrol searching for IEDs or using high explosives to blast their way through insurgent defenses, building a desk in a wood shop.
The combat engineers of I Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group construction section take the meticulous attention to detail forged in combat and carry it over to their lesser known duties: the construction of anything the mission requires.
“We build everything from plaques to sheds and anything in between,” said Cpl. Michael Crawford, I MHG combat engineer, construction section. “If they need it built, we build it and we do it right. You never know who is going to be looking at your work, so the attention to detail has to be flawless for every project.”
The four-man construction section of the combat engineer platoon facilitates construction projects for I MHG and all subordinate commands, which consists of several thousand Marines, sailors and civilians. This is no small feat and can only be accomplished because of the seasoned non-commissioned officers who compromise the section, according to Staff Sgt. John Thomas, the construction section operations chief.
“It makes my job easier because of how these Marines take charge,” Thomas said. “I give them my intent and they run with it. These Marines show off their creativity and know-how for each project that comes through here. ”
Common projects such as mobile pull-up bars and desks come through frequently, but the tasks that provide the most challenge and reward for the construction section come with building something that’s never been done before in the Marine Corps.
“We get requests for specialized equipment for deployment that we develop here,” said Sgt. Robert Hays, I MHG combat engineer construction section NCOIC. “In one instance, we had a request to construct a housing container to keep gear cool from the desert heat and protected from dirt and debris. It’s never been used before in the Marine Corps and if we get it right, we will push the design to all of our operating forces.”
With the ingenuity of an artist and the knowledge of a demolition team, these Marines will continue to hone their skills as I MHG craftsmen creating anything the mission requires and then some.