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Marine students attending the 8th Engineer Support Battalion Medium Girder Bridge Master’s Course prepare to lift a bridge part during a field exercise at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Nov. 18, 2015. 8th Engineer Support Battalion has the only full-manned Bridge Company in the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Paul S. Martinez/Released)

Photo by Cpl. Paul S. Martinez

Bridging the gap: 8th, 9th ESB concludes MGB Bridge Master’s Course

18 Nov 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, were just days away from completing the Medium Girder Bridge Master’s Course at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Nov. 18, 2015.

The course, which began Oct. 26, teaches Marines to lead the bridge building process in a safe and expedient manner. This iteration hosted Marines from 9th ESB, based at Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan.

“In Okinawa, building bridges can be limited,” said Pfc. Jeremy J. Williams, a combat engineer with 9th ESB. “Out here, we have been doing different types of bridges to include 11-bay to 16-bay bridges.”

Having previously applied the bridge-building process at the 8th ESB lot and Landing Zone Dove, the final week brought Marines to Courthouse Bay. The bridges required throughout the course continually increased in length, providing a greater challenge of endurance for the students with each new bridge.

“This is a course that teaches Marines how to lead,” said Lance Cpl. Brian Hillhott, an advanced medium girder bridge master with 8th ESB. “They are doing great out here. The Marines are communicating with each other and not getting complacent.”

Marines were required to construct a 16-bay bridge with chain link reinforcement, a technique that requires extra application of bridge parts underneath the initial framework to allow for more stability. When a medium girder bridge is complete, it is capable of holding the weight of an M1 Abrams tank, approximately 60 tons.

Maj. Gen. W. Lee Miller, the commanding general of II Marine Expeditionary Force, and Brig. Gen. Charles Chiarotti, the commanding general of 2nd MLG, were briefly present to observe students execute their tasks.

With the experience of completing numerous rounds of practice constructing and disassembling the bridge, Marines moved with haste to lift and connect their 400-600 pound bridge pieces.

“This training is important, because it teaches us as junior Marines what to do when our senior Marines begin to leave the unit,” Williams said. “In 9th ESB, we do things one way and in 8th ESB, it may be another. The course has shown what we are capable of together.”

With only a short amount of field time left for the students, 9th ESB Marines will return to Okinawa with knowledge that only 8th ESB Bridge Company, being the single fully-manned bridge company in the Marine Corps, could offer.

“I think the past four weeks have been very beneficial for both units,” Hillhott said. “They have both learned a lot and will move forward with that knowledge to lead Marines in building bridges.”

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