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Marine students in the 8th Engineer Support Battalion Bridge Master’s Course connect bridge foundation parts during a practical application of recently learned skills at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Oct. 29, 2015. The course teaches Marines to lead the bridge building process, and is hosting Marines from 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, based out of Camp Hansen, Okinawa. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Paul S. Martinez/Released)

Photo by Cpl. Paul S. Martinez

Building bridges: 8th and 9th ESB begin course

29 Oct 2015 | Cpl. Paul S. Martinez II Marine Expeditionary Force

Marines with 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, and 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, began the Bridge Master’s Course at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Oct. 29.

The course teaches Marines to lead the bridge-building process wherever it may be required. The engineer community uses this skill to enable the movement of Marines and supplies in an operational environment.

“Bridge masters take charge of the bridge,” said Sgt. Tyler G. Denney, a bridge master instructor with 8th ESB. “He or she ensures the site is good enough to use, and makes sure it goes smoothly. They control the tempo and the overall picture.”

The valuable subject expertise offered by 8th ESB, which boasts the only fully-manned Bridge Company in the Marine Corps, attracted 24 Marines from 9th ESB based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Hansen, Okinawa, to attend the course.

“The capability out here is amazing compared to Okinawa,” said Cpl. Damien Colonalmonte, a combat engineer with 9th ESB. “I hope my Marines gain an understanding of this knowledge so when junior Marines come under them, those Marines in the course will be able to show what they learned.”

The military load classification scale weighs the safe amount of load a surface can support. The bridge utilized in the course is rated 70, just enough for an M1 Abrams tank to cross, according to Denney.

“Our bridge program is one of the most knowledgeable,” Denney said. “We are training 9th ESB so that they can go back to Okinawa and hone their bridging.”

The bridge-building process required Marines to work together to lift pieces of bridge that weighed between 400 and 600 pounds. Once they connected the foundation pieces of the bridge, Marines used a seven-ton truck to push it to the other side. The foundation was established next, followed by a ramp, deck and curb to complete the bridge.

“If an infantry unit comes through and needs a bridge, it’s on us to help them move,” Colonalmonte said. “Being proficient in this is essential so that we may support other units in combat.”

Marines will take their skills to the field as the next step of the course. The course is slated to continue until Nov. 20.

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