Marine Combat Engineers Fortify U.S. Camp
By Jim Goodwin
Iraq (CENTCOM)– Not far from the Iraqi-Jordanian border, a handful
of Marines are providing an extra layer of protection for the
small, remote forward operating base here.
After a suicide
bomber killed two Marines and injured six others early last month,
combat engineers from Combat Service Support Battalion 7 have
spent the past three weeks fortifying the camp.
imagined I’d be standing on the Iraqi border getting rained
on and freezing,” said Lance Cpl. William A. Fishburn, a
military truck driver who joined the Marine Corps two years ago
to “make a difference in the world.”
20-year-old Marine reservist from Springfield, Ill., is providing
security for the combat engineers as they work. Just several yards
in front of him, civilian vehicles are entering and exiting Iraq
through the large steel arches of the border crossing –
the same road the suicide truck driver used to ram into the U.S.
the combat engineers are hard at work – sparks sprinkling
the pavement from a welder’s torch, the rhythmic ‘beep’
of a large tractor moving barriers into place.
In just under
a month, the Marines have worked daily to emplace [B1] barriers,
elevate watch towers, set concertina wire, and install gates so
the Marine provisional infantrymen who operate here can better
even dozed two nearby (abandoned) farmhouses which individuals
were using to observe the FOB,” said Sgt. T. R. Sparenberg,
a 28-year-old from Virginia, Ill., and platoon sergeant for the
engineer detachment here.
assigned to this remote area on Iraq’s western border are
charged with providing security and assisting the Iraqi Border
and Customs Police with vehicle inspections and searches at the
border. Additionally, the Marines here act as a liaison for Jordanian
trucks which convoy fuel into Iraq.
U.S. forces operating here have been the target of insurgents’
attacks, to include small arms fire in addition to last month’s
been a rebuilding process for everyone,” said 1st Lt. Joshua
B. Kling, platoon commander for the camp’s detachment of
Marine. “We just have to keep pressing with the operation.”
the compound and adjacent vehicle entry control point will prevent
unauthorized vehicles from entering the area, said Kling, a 27-year-old
Hot Springs, Va., native.
From the border
crossing point, people entering Iraq are pulled into a vehicle
entry control lot where Iraqi Border Police, supervised by Marines,
inspect vehicles and verify passports.
Now, in addition
to the steel gate, dozens of cement barriers now stand between
the border’s road and the compound.
increases our survivability and (we can) control vehicle movement
into the compound better,” Kling said.
Maj. Jon D.
Quehl, the engineer company’s commanding officer, pulled
Marines from various other engineer projects throughout Iraq’s
Al Anbar Province to quickly establish needed extra protection
is something that can save Marines’ lives," said the
Decatur, Ill., native. “It means a hell of a lot more protection
in Iraq more than four months ago, CSSB-7’s combat engineers
have completed numerous projects throughout western Iraq, to include
fortification of the smaller outposts and the construction of
an Iraqi National Guard academy.
provide several teams of mine sweepers, known as obstacle clearing
detachments, to counter insurgents’ efforts against military
logistics convoys on Iraq’s open roadways.
On a recent
convoy, the engineers encountered – and cleared – more than
20 mines. Fishburn was driving a 7-ton truck full of Marines that
son, husband, or whatever, are coming home because these guys
did their job and cleared the mines,” said Fishburn, who
says he wants to pursue a career in law enforcement when he returns
to Illinois. “I’d like to go to college, maybe the
University of Illinois or something.”
about being activated for service in Iraq, Fishburn shrugs and
says he expected to come to Iraq, and that a member of his family
has served in every major U.S. war since World War II.
say I did something, not just sit at home and watch it on the
news,” he said.
in a combat zone is nothing new for these Marine engineers, the
majority of which are reservists from the Peoria, Ill.-based Charlie
Engineer Company. The unit was activated to serve in Operation
Iraqi Freedom during last year’s push to Baghdad.
Matt R. Hashter, a 24-year-old combat engineer, has served more
than a year in Iraq between his activation last year and his current
stint with CSSB-7. Despite that fact, the Springfield, Ill., native
says the Marine Corps has provided him the direction he needs
to be successful in life. Before deploying, he obtained his realtor’s
license and plans on making a career out of selling property.
gave me a chance to mature and focus on what’s important,”
said Hashter, who is also providing security as his fellow combat
engineers work. “I’ve had a chance to think and figure
out what I want in my life.”
eyes move to a vehicle driving along the road adjacent to the
engineer’s position, leading to the border. His smile has
disappeared. After a moment, he smiles again before speaking:
“Besides, I would have hated to be at home the whole time,”