CSSD-20 leaves behind lasting impressions

20 Jun 2004 | Sgt. Ryan S. Scranton

A plane carrying Marines and sailors from Combat Service Support Detachment-20 departed Port-au-Prince International Airport on June 20 bound for Camp Lejuene.
While deployed here, the Marines and sailors of CSSD-20 provided a supply and logistical life-line for the operations of Marine Air Ground Task Force-8 and the Multinational Interim Force-Haiti.
“CSSD-20 was a pick-up team from the FSSG (2nd Force Service Support Group out of Camp Lejeune, N.C.). They had never worked together before, but based on their performance you would have thought they had been working together for years,” said Col. Mark Gurganus, MAGTF-8 commander. “They kept our operations up and running,” he added.
Combat Service Support Detachment-20 has been actively supporting MAGTF-8 and the other multinational forces deployed in support of Operation Secure Tomorrow with food, water, equipment and logistical needs since their arrival in early March.
“We couldn’t have done everything we did without them,” Gurganus said. “They were our life support system for our operations day in and day out.”
The detachment also employed their its to support civil military operations geared toward a better quality of life for the Haitian people as well as ordered and provided repair parts for numerous military vehicles and communication equipment.
“The Marines here helped support everyone deployed down here in one way or the other,” said Maj. Vincent H. Williams, executive officer, CSSD-20. “They’ve delivered humanitarian aid, helped clean-up the streets of Port-au-Prince and at the same time supplied the MAGTF-8 and the other multinational forces with MREs (Meals, Ready-to-eat) water, uniforms and boots.”
Since their deployment, the Marines with CSSD-20 have found themselves in a wide variety of operations. They have provided approximately 230,000 gallons of bottled water and processed more than 235,000 gallons of water for distribution to MIF- Haiti personnel and the Haitian people.
In addition to supplying water, the detachment has provided more than 185,000 gallons of diesel fuel and gasoline, as well as more than 1,200 repair parts to keep the force moving.
“These Marines have supplied water and fuel to nearly everyone here,” Williams said. The detachment has done more than provide the fuel and parts to keep the force going, they have also cleared paths through the city for the convoys and presence patrols providing security to the city. They did this by assisting in the removal of more than 600 dump truck loads of refuse and debris from the streets of Port-au-Prince, as well as removing approximately 80 burned-out and abandoned car hulls.
“The clearing of the trash and car hulls from the streets allowed for the free movement of our patrols,” Gurganus explained. “The street sweep operations, which removed trash and debris which were essentially road blocks, allowed us to get wherever we needed to go to bring security to this city.”
Supporting the mission of providing security to the city was accomplished by more than just daily presence patrols performed by the Marines from 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment and other MIF-Haiti personnel.
Marines and sailors from CSSD-20 were able to reach out to the community through many different projects. They built friendships with the community through repairing three schools, clearing approximately one mile of debris from a canal in one of the city’s worst slums and delivering water and food to senior citizens who were unable to provide for themselves.
“The projects like the clean-up of the canal and streets helped us build a rapport with the people,” Gurganus said. “It also was a catalyst for the people of Haiti to take control of their own destiny.
“Since we started cleaning up the city, I’ve seen the community start its own clean-up projects and begin to take a part in their own future. They weren’t doing any of that when we got here,” he explained.
With a mission that ranged from providing supplies and logistical support for the interim forces to assisting in the rebuilding of the community, the Marines and sailors of CSSD-20 left an indelible mark on the people of Haiti.
“The missions these Marines have performed here will have an impact on these people for years,” Gurganus said. “It’s been a pleasure having them as part of this team and they are a true group of professionals.”