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Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany worked with 8th Engineer Support Battalion from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina to construct a new endurance course at the southwest Georgia installation. The project demonstrates a commitment to camaraderie and physical fitness, and officially opened up for use on Thursday after 20 days of construction. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Jennifer Parks)

Photo by Jennifer Parks

Partnership brings new endurance course to MCLB Albany

4 May 2023 | Jennifer Parks Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune

The "One Team, One Fight" principle brings about special emphasis in the Department of Defense for partnership. The U.S. Marine Corps is no exception.

This has been seen in recent days at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, which worked with 8th Engineer Support Battalion from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina to construct a new endurance course.

The project demonstrates a commitment to camaraderie and physical fitness and shows what partnership can do to meet mission and training requirements with gumption.

“The new endurance course shows what can happen when a partnership forms among Marines to take care of their own,” MCLB Albany Commanding Officer Col. Michael Fitzgerald said. “It was truly a team effort, and the project’s completion demonstrates a commitment to physical fitness, esprit de corps and an investment in the future of the Marine Corps.

“The support of the 8th Engineer Support Battalion and the tenants of MCLB Albany brought to fruition an investment that will pay off for years to come.”

The MCLB Albany Installation and Environment Division and 8th ESB began planning in Fiscal Year 2022 to construct the course on the southwest Georgia installation in support of Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island’s safe haven operations.

MCLB Albany is used as a “safe haven” sheltering point for recruits at MCRD Parris Island when hurricanes force an evacuation of the South Carolina base.

“One of the commanding officer’s initiatives was to build an endurance course to support the recruits when they come here,” said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Michael Feeney, public works officer and deputy director, Installation and Environment Division, MCLB Albany.

The contractor price tag was determined to be too cost prohibitive. So the job got done by alternate means, by inviting the 8th ESB to come onsite.

“We brought in Marine engineers,” Feeney said. “Col. Fitzgerald called and got the ball rolling.”

The layout of the course was designed from obstacles in an Army Field Manual which were provided by MCLB Albany. The battalion got transportation to and from Camp Lejeune, housing in the installation’s barracks, food at the base’s dining facility, water, an emergency vehicle and fuel. Marine Corps Logistics Command, headquartered at MCLB Albany and the base’s primary tenant, provided much of the necessary equipment. 

The battalion provided 30 personnel and their tool kits. The crew included a Navy corpsman, two Marine lieutenants and a multitude of enlisted Marines ranking from private first class to staff sergeant.

The platoon that executed this project, Expeditionary Horizontal Construction Platoon, was created a year ago. Primarily dealing with horizontal construction, this project allowed the platoon to expand on their vertical construction capabilities.

“We executed a site survey for this project in August 2022. The battalion decided that our platoon would be the best fit to execute the construction of the endurance course,” said EHC Platoon Commander 1st Lt. Ashley Gippe.

An endurance course at the Albany installation was found to be the most proper fit of several possibilities in furthering the support of the safe haven operations for the MCRD Parris Island recruits. This is a very important function for MCLB Albany.

“It meets both mission and training objectives,” Feeney said. “It was a win-win.”

The battalion arrived at MCLB Albany to begin construction on April 9, wrapping up in time for Thursday’s ribbon cutting. Among them were combat engineers, engineer equipment operators, engineer equipment mechanics and motor vehicle operators.

“The execution of this project will fulfill many training requirements for the platoon,” said Staff Sgt. John Gillen, staff non-commissioned officer in charge for EHC Platoon.

The initial timeline for construction was closer to six months, and was completed in 20 working days. It is .9 miles in length, 10 feet wide and includes 10 obstacles. The five combat engineers had the task of overseeing the vertical construction of each obstacle.

The original plan called for eight obstacles. Following the site survey, Gippe and Gillen were able to extend the course length by 800 feet allowing for two additional obstacles.

“The course obstacles will require a lot of agility, creative thinking, and grit from the Marines executing,” Gillen said.

“This project has built a lot of confidence for our group,” he continued. “This is not just a road that will be maintained once a quarter. The course will be here for years to come and will have our name stamped on it. That brings about a sense of pride.”

Multiple divisions within MCLB Albany made sure the 8th ESB Marines had what they needed, from vehicles to food to medical care to accommodations. There are a number of Marines across the ranks within the 8th ESB willing to get their hands dirty to get a job done.

“It was a huge group effort,” Gippe said. “It has been a great opportunity to see what Marines are capable of. We have done great things and work well together and I’m happy to see this project come to completion and be utilized.”

The group effort to move the 1,100 cubic yards of sand needed to bring the endurance course to life came about almost seamlessly.

“It came together fast,” Feeney said. “Everyone who had a hand in it wanted to see it a success and make it happen. I came back from leave for two weeks during the construction and was impressed with the progress.”

“I think everyone is excited.”

The sight of seeing Marines on base getting their hands dirty from the construction was a thrilling one. And it stems from a relationship based on mutual respect.

“We benefited greatly from the group effort provided by everyone on the base,” Gillen said. “It was game time when we got here.”

The personnel of the 8th ESB working on the project were: 

  • 1st Lt. Ashley Gippe (Officer in Charge/Combat Engineer Officer)

  • 2nd Lt. Duncan Rivers (Combat Engineer Officer)

  • Staff Sgt. John Gillen (Staff Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge/Engineer Equipment Operator)

  • Sgt. Jacob Rademacher (Engineer Equipment Operator)

  • Cpl. John Allen (Engineer Equipment Operator)

  • Cpl. Noah Mayeda (Engineer Equipment Operator)

  • Cpl. Trevor Cashmer (Engineer Equipment Operator)

  • Cpl. Jakeb Reed (Engineer Equipment Operator)

  • Lance Cpl. Dawson Biggers (Engineer Equipment Operator)

  • Lance Cpl. Alexander Long (Engineer Equipment Operator)

  • Lance Cpl. Ryan Douchette (Engineer Equipment Operator)

  • Lance Cpl. Christopher Guerra (Engineer Equipment Operator)

  • Lance Cpl. Ernest Ostos (Engineer Equipment Operator)

  • Lance Cpl. Jeremiah Pennix (Engineer Equipment Operator)

  • Lance Cpl. Adam Fitzsimmons (Engineer Equipment Operator)

  • Lance Cpl. Jacob Helstrom (Engineer Equipment Operator)

  • Lance Cpl. Evan Crawford (Engineer Equipment Operator)

  • Pfc. Erick Gonzalez Hernandez (Engineer Equipment Operator)

  • Cpl. Owen Messmore (Engineer Equipment Mechanic)

  • Lance Cpl. Braedan Bailey (Engineer Equipment Mechanic)

  • Lance Cpl. Jordan Rattliff (Engineer Equipment Mechanic)

  • Lance Cpl. Ricosebazchain Ecalnir (Engineer Equipment Mechanic)

  • Cpl. Peter Moravec (Combat Engineer)

  • Lance Cpl. Johnathon Ennis (Combat Engineer)

  • Lance Cpl. Gage Perkins (Combat Engineer)

  • Lance Cpl. Jose Medina (Combat Engineer)

  • Lance Cpl. John Wilczek (Combat Engineer)

  • Lance Cpl. Argelio Zamora, Jr. (Motor Vehicle Operator) 

  • Lance Cpl. Zachary Cottner (Motor Vehicle Operator) 

  • HM3 Kalechie Thompson (Corpsman)

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