HIT, Iraq -- While many across the globe celebrated the first day of the New Year with traditional family and friend gatherings, the engineers of MEU Service Support Group 22 had a different way to start 2006; improving the roadways of Hit, Iraq.
Working in the pitch black of a moonless night, the engineers of MSSG-22, the combat service support element of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), are doing their part to develop the area, filling seemingly endless lines of potholes that are scattered along main routes in and around the town.
“It can be a long, sometimes nasty job, pumping water out of the holes and not knowing what’s in it, but it’s worth it,” said Logan, W.V. native Lance Cpl. Claude Baisden, an engineer with over 2 years experience in the Marine Corps.
Departing from its base camp in the middle of the night, when curfew is being enforced around Hit and the roads are empty, a team of more than a dozen engineers pack potholes sometimes over 3 feet deep with gravel, then cover them with concrete.
“The work we do not only helps with our military operations, making roads more accessible and giving terrorists less places to hide IEDs [improvised explosive devices], but it shows the local townspeople we’re here to help, which will hopefully make them more receptive to us,” said Baisden.
While not being home to ring in a new year can be a difficult sacrifice to make, according to Lance Cpl. Isidro Puga, MSSG-22’s engineers are up to the task and willing to make the sacrifice.
“There’s no better feeling than accomplishing a mission, and it feels great to help win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people and do our part to help the cause out here,” said Puga, a Houston, Texas native.
The MSSG-22 Engineer Platoon brings a very diverse set of capabilities. Inherent within the section is the personnel and equipment to supply general utility support in the form of power and air conditioning support, expedient refueling, water production and storage, horizontal and vertical construction, engineer reconnaissance, minefield warfare support, and military demolition support.
In addition to MSSG-22, the 22nd MEU (SOC) consists of its Command Element, Battalion Landing Team 1st Bn., 2nd Marines, and Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 261 (Reinforced). The MEU is currently conducting counterinsurgency operations in Iraq’s Al Anbar province.
For more information on the 22nd MEU (SOC)’s role in Operation Iraqi Freedom, visit the unit’s web site at http://www.22meu.usmc.mil.