CAMP LEJEUNE, North Carolina -- Marines with 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, and Combat Logistics Battalion 2, Combat Logistics Regiment 2, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, and other units spent several days loading railcars during a railhead operation aboard Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Feb. 12-18, 2015.
Assault amphibious vehicles, M1A1 tanks, Humvees and other cargo were loaded to be sent to Fort Pickett, Virginia, where 2nd Tanks and other supporting elements will be conducting training.
“With this railhead operation, safety is one of the biggest concerns,” said 1st Lt. Samuel Irvine, a platoon commander with CLB-2. “A lot of these vehicles are oversized and extremely heavy, so you need to make sure you safely load them onto the rail car in order to not have any injuries.”
Armed with reflective vests, hard hats and radios, landing support specialists supervise as Marines guide the vehicles and equipment onto railcars.
“We supervise, conduct and coordinate with the supporting unit with their gear loading it onto railcars,” said Sgt. Stephan Kortum, the platoon sergeant for Landing Support Platoon, CLB-2. “We are in charge of supervising and safety, but it is the supporting unit’s responsibility to get the gear here, load it up and ground guide it. We just supervise to make sure everything is safe.”
Along with the railhead operation, landing support specialists assist with helicopter support team operations and beach and port operations groups. Railhead operations are very rare occasions for LS Marines and can be a great experience for them.
“We don’t (execute railhead operations) as often as we should,” said Kortum. “Some Marines will even go eight years without touching a railhead. Railheads are starting to become big now that the Marine Corps is experiencing budget cuts, so it’s very important that we get as many hands out here as possible to make sure they have a clear understanding of how a railhead is run from the planning phase to the operation phase.”
Marines with 2nd Tanks also get an opportunity to capitalize on the operation, seeing as the railhead operation is for their training at Fort Pickett.
“Our supporting element helps us get us to where we need to go and complete our mission,” said Sgt. Darrell Brown, a section leader with 2nd Tanks. “CLB-2 plays a big part in our mission. They bring us the parts we need, like fuel for example, because we can’t do everything and be everywhere. Anything we need to stay in the fight, our supporting element gets it to us.”
Despite inclement weather and freezing temperatures causing a delay in operations, the Marines loaded everything safely and effectively and are now on their way toward Fort Pickett.