MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT N.C. --
Marine Wing Support Squadron 271 Marines partnered with members of the Croatan District Office Dec. 6-10 to help repair the damaged roads, which are used by forest rangers, outdoor enthusiasts and the general public alike.
Over the past year, dirt roads within the Croatan National Forest were in need of a touch up due to overgrowth and washouts caused by harsh weather.
"It is a good feeling being able to work on a project like this with Marines," said Lee Thornhill, the district ranger with the Croatan District Office. "Marines do a lot for this country and for the local community. For them to take time out of their week to come fix up damaged roads inside the Croatan National Forest means a lot and benefi ts everyone."
Over the span of five days, Marines of MWSS-271’s Engineer Company deployed a bulldozer, grader, multiterrain loaders, backhoes and other heavy equipment to the Croatan National Forest to complete repairs on the damaged roads.
"The first thing we had to do was find the roads," said Sgt. Arron J. Mahar, a heavy-equipment operator with the company. "When we came out here on Monday, one of the many roads we are working on was almost completely grown over."
MWSS-271 rotated eight-man teams to work all-day shifts and posted Marines overnight to watch the equipment.
"All the Marines who are working on this project work hard and have done this before on multiple deployments," said Mahar. "All the Marines realize this is not training. It is a real-life operation that will benefit our local community."
After five days of labor-intensive work, the Marines of Engineer Company improved traffic-ability in more than three miles of dirt roads by regrading the roads, eliminating overgrowth and facilitating proper drainage to protect the roads from future erosion.
Thornhill further expressed his appreciation for the job the Marines did in the forest.
"This is the third time the Marines helped with the road construction in the forest," said Thornhill. "The Marines know the importance of maintaining public access, and it is greatly appreciated by everyone."
Though Thornhill was grateful, Mahar made it clear the benefit went both ways.
"The end result of this project not only benefits the local community, but it also benefits us," said Mahar. "It provided Engineer Company Marines with a project that allowed them to sharpen their skills in road-grading operations and other mission essential tasks that they may be called upon to perform in the future."