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Cpl. Robert Sauers, a heavy equipment operator with 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, uses a compactor to make smooth solid ground for vehicles to travel here, Jan. 27. Marines with 2nd CEB took several days to perform maintenance, clearing stumps, repairing roads and ripping out trees and shrubs.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Brian Woodruff

2nd CEB Marines perform range maintenance

27 Jan 2009 | Lance Cpl. Brian Woodruff

Marines with 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, performed range maintenance at one of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune’s remote military reservations Jan. 27.


Bill Van Pelt, Camp Lejeune’s range maintenance officer, chose the 2nd CEB Marines for this job because leaders in the battalion wanted their drivers to get more experience with heavy equipment.


“It’s a win-win situation,” said Van Pelt.  “I could have put in a work request, but that would have cost the Marine Corps money and this way inexperienced Marines get time driving this equipment.”


During the time the Marines were at the facility, they drove bulldozers, compactors, graders, and backhoes.  Meeting the goals of this maintenance required stump removal, grating and compacting roads, and grubbing, a term used by combat engineers to describe the ripping of tree and shrubs from an area.


2nd Lt. Daniel Kinney, heavy equipment platoon commander, said Marines in his platoon barely ever get to do work like this. 


Kinney said replacing the roads was one of the heavier tasks.  The operators used a grader to smooth out dirt evenly along the road and then ran a compactor over it to create a solid and sturdy place for vehicles to drive.


“The goal is being able to have easy access in and around this runway,” said Lance Cpl. Gregory Alix, a heavy equipment operator.


Besides the large amount of work the operators did when they arrived, it also took a great deal of effort just to get their equipment out there.  Operators loaded the equipment onto trailers and convoyed to the site, where they camped out for two days in tents.  They were only able to use certain roads, as directed by policy.  The heavy weight of the trailers combined with their slow speed made the trip last much longer than usual.


Along with the experience they gained while operating the machines, the Marines also had a lot of fun.  Cpl. Robert Sauers, a heavy equipment operator, said that being able to work in this kind of environment definitely made his day.


“We actually get to go out and do something, and time goes by a lot faster when you’re not sitting behind a desk,” Sauers said.


Although more jobs like maintenance are contracted out to civilian agencies, Marines still play a critical role in getting the job done.  Their hard work and determination can turn any undertaking into a not-so daunting task.