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Cpl. Christopher Cane constructs a helicopter landing zone in the Helmand River valley of southwestern Afghanistan from behind the wheel of an armored bulldozer, Oct. 21. Cane, a native of Olympia, Wash., is a heavy equipment operator on a roughly 20-man team dubbed “Task Force Nomad.” Over the next several weeks, the task force, a subset of Marine Wing Support Squadron 371, will construct or improve helicopter landing zones along the Helmand River valley in southwestern Afghanistan.

Photo by Cpl. Brian Adam Jones

Marine heavy equipment operator finds critical role on task force in Afghanistan

2 Nov 2011 | Cpl. Brian Adam Jones

Cpl. Christopher Cane, a heavy equipment operator with Marine Wing Support Squadron 371, has been all over the world.

The Olympia, Wash., native recently completed a tour on Marine Security Guard duty, serving in Saudi Arabia, Estonia and Barbados.

Cane now finds himself in the Helmand River Valley in southwestern Afghanistan as part of a roughly 20-man team dubbed “Task Force Nomad.”

Operating out of Patrol Base Alcatraz, an outpost on the valley’s rim, for the next several weeks, Cane will be instrumental in an effort to construct helicopter landing zones in the region.

The task force completed its first mission, Oct. 21, constructing a landing zone for a special operati­­­ons unit in the valley. 

Cane operated the armored bulldozer that moved the gravel for the landing zone.

“It’s always a challenge coming into a situation and not knowing what you’re going to find,” Cane said. “Luckily we can move the earth beneath us.” 

The other Marines on the team credited Cane with the success of the mission.

“He ran the show,” said Sgt. Eric Zauner, the senior motor vehicle operator on the task force. “We were out there with the success and speed that we enjoyed because of him.”

“A lot of things hinge on heavy equipment,” Cane said, “whether I’m moving equipment around or moving the earth.”

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