SAN GREGORIO, Spain -- "Turning desolate and barren land into a habitable environment was not easy," said Maj. David A. Ratte, the operations officer in charge at 2d Marine Expeditionary Brigade Headquarters Group here.
The Marines of MHG deployed in support of Dynamic Mix '02 aboard "Camp Alamo" have converted what most would call a dirt mound into a working city with relevant moving parts.
"We take care of all of the supporting needs of the 2d MEB as it relates to their command element needs," said Ratte, a native of Verona, N.J.
The engineering Marines were tasked with setting up 44 berthing tents and an additional eight tents for the command element. The Marines were given a 48-hour deadline for the completion of the project.
"I have eighteen Marines in my shop and we have been filling all kinds of requests from various units," said Gunnery Sgt. James C. Mills, engineer chief and acting first sergeant.
"We build just about everything to include shelves, guard shacks, mailboxes and shower benches," added the Maple Shade, N.J., Marine.
In addition to setting up the command and berthing tents, the engineers set up a field-mess facility, installed plumbing for showering facilities and a pot shack, and built power grids for the entire camp.
Aside from their primary duties of overseeing the building of the camp and its amenities, the S-4 shop has the responsibility of ensuring the camp has sufficient drinking water, fuel for the motor transport vehicles and power generators, working showering facilities, and chow for the troops.
"Not only are we responsible for coordinating all logistical aspects for the MEB, but we are also in charge of acquiring buses so that the troops are able to experience the many aspects of the Spanish culture," said Master Sgt. Maurice Johnson, S-4 chief.
"We are very fortunate to have a Spanish speaking Marine in our shop without him, (Sgt. Daniel Valle), we would not be able to accept the many deliveries or direct the incoming traffic to the camp," said the Guthrie, Ky., native.
"I have to make certain the liberty buses are on time and that the contracted bus drivers know when and where to drop off and pick up the Marines," said Valle.
The language barrier was overcome by a multitude of Marines volunteering their "free" time and work time to aide in translating for the camp?s building completion.
"Camp Alamo" runs just like a like regular town and the commanding officer is the mayor," said Ratte.
"This has been a fantastic experience for the junior Marines and a great learning opportunity for them to witness first-hand how a larger than life exercise is performed," said Johnson. "It also shows how their role in this exercise fits into the big picture."