Sgt. Cesar Carreon, a combat engineer with
Marine Wing Support Squadron 373 and a Houston native, adjusts a
pole into a more level position while working at the obstacle course
construction site aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif.,
Oct. 24, 2013.
(U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Christopher Johns)
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. – Whether working on a
building, sweeping an area for explosives or blowing up land mines
to keep their brothers and sisters safe from harm, Marine Corps
combat engineers get the job done.
These men and women have a
great deal of knowledge in many fields and it all meshes together
when they get the call to move out to their next assignment. Marines
like those found in the combat engineer platoon with Marine Wing
Support Squadron 373 aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar,
Calif., get down and dirty at their usually mud-covered construction
“This is a very hands-on job,” said Pfc. Shaquille
Ross, a combat engineer with MWSS-373, and an Allentown, Pa.,
native. “You have to be able to pull your own weight and learn on
Schooling lasts two months at Courthouse Bay on
Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., with on-the-job training once
a Marine gets to his first duty station.
engineering platoon isn't on a site building something for the
installation, they work in their wood shop or on demolitions ranges
to keep their abilities up to par. Some lessons are better learned
from those who experienced them rather than in a classroom.
“[My seniors] have a lot of wisdom and have taught me a lot since I
first got here,” said Ross. “When I pick up corporal, I'll get the
opportunity to go to school again. I would love to be like them some
Journeyman level schools are open to Marines at the
noncommissioned officer level in order to hone their skills and
effectively teach their juniors.
A love for hard work isn't
the only incentive for some of these Marine Corps builders.
“It's pretty cool to be able to go out and build
something that others will use and be able to leave our name
and legacy behind us,” said Sgt. Ryan Armstrong, the
construction chief for MWSS-373 and a Ceres, Calif., native.
“I love getting the hands-on experience of working on a
site, putting things together with my bare hands.”
For some, the best part about the job is having a hand in
something being used for generations to come.
of the structures] we build are going to be around for a
long time,” said Ross. “When I see them I can say that I
helped build that, and that feels really good to me. It
feels good to be a part of history.”
Should these men
and women want to carry on in this line of work into the
civilian sector, they will already have skills that will
help them stand out from their competitors.
experiences our Marines gain from their time working in this
field will help them in trying to find a job,” said 1st Lt.
David Funni, combat engineer platoon commander with the
support squadron and an Oskaloosa, Iowa, native. “[The
Department of Defense] has an apprenticeship program called
the U.S. Military Apprenticeship Program that logs the hours
a Marine works and applies them to civilian apprenticeship
With a broad field of work to explore and
quite a few tools of the trade to fall back on, the Marine
Corps' combat engineer comes well prepared to tackle almost
Whether building a rappel tower for
training purposes or sweeping terrain for improvised
explosive devices, these men and women provide invaluable
services to the Marine Corps and their fellow Marines; and
it's all in a day's work.
By USMC Christopher Johns
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