MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- When asked by his recruiter what job he wanted to do in the Marine Corps, Osseo, Wis., native Cpl. James A. Oliver chose the explosive career of a combat engineer.
He wanted to gain experience in construction, work with explosives and soon after accomplishing those goals, he began instructing in these very skills.
Through the Basic Advanced and Expedient Demolition Course, Oliver’s easy-going personality shines through. He uses this, along with attention to detail to train Marines in the job he enjoys, helping bridge the gap between school and a Marine Corps career.
Oliver along with other instructors taught and refreshed Marines and coastguardsmen in the amount of damage each explosion produces.
“For a combat engineer, this class teaches you everything you need to know, and coming out here early in their career, they get the information in their heads early on,” Oliver explained. “They get to apply what they learned in school, get hands on and actually blow stuff up.”
Oliver, understanding the need for hands on experience provided the students the tools of trade needed for their job. This included multiple explosives ranging from Improvised Bangalore Torpedoes, which are used to clear wire to Composition 4 or C-4, which is used to break walls and remove other obstacles.
The end results were devastating explosions where dirt, wood and rock rained from the sky, some more extreme than others. Oliver helped each Marine learn, or become reacquainted with the affects of each explosive.
A few of the other classes the 22-year-old helps teach include engineer reconnaissance, field fortification, improvised explosive devices, booby traps and mine sweeping. The classes are not limited to Marines, as Army, Navy and Coast Guard personnel participate in the classes regularly.
Oliver, who just came from Afghanistan, can easily translate each lesson into combat scenarios. Other combat engineers who have gone through the training before can relate to this training as it easily applies to real-world situations.
“In Fallujah, we had to get through railroad track and other obstacles using the same explosives and tactics taught here,” said Lance Cpl. Michael Solis, a combat engineer. “We blew up weapons caches and bunkers applying this same training.”
The training is helpful to new Marines and those who have been through the training likewise.
“It’s good training, and it keeps you familiar even if you’ve done it before,” said Lance Cpl. Brad Loyd, a combat engineer. “It helps the new guys get used to blowing the explosives. It helps them react to the impact in a proper manner.”
Oliver graduated from Osseo-Fairchild High School where he realized he wanted more out of life as well as skills for the real world. Now after returning from supporting the Global War on Terrorism in Afghanistan, he is able to take those real-world skills and share them with fellow Marines.
“I like being a Marine and I love blowing stuff up,” Oliver explained. “I just want to share that experience.”