MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Engineers aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune celebrated their patron saint’s holiday with a fun day of friendly competition in the annual Saint Patrick’s Day Field Meet on Ellis Field in Courthouse Bay, March 15, aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.
Saint Patrick’s Day is a special day to the engineers throughout the world. Many wonder how a day more commonly attributed to four-leaf clovers and the man who, according to tradition, rid Ireland of snakes can relate to the craftsmen of the Corps. St. Patrick has some roots in the world of construction and is credited for the use of lime as mortar.
The event, which has been held for many years, is a way for engineers to honor their history and their craft. Most of the competitions were designed around engineering.
“I tried to make it as old-school as possible,” said Maj. Dev Spradlin, the director of instruction at Marine Corps Engineer School. “A lot of these events have not seen the light of day in a long time.”
Among those events is the Battalion Commander Chariot Race, where each unit’s construction shop designed and built a chariot for their commander to ride in. The designs were kept as closely guarded secrets and were revealed for a race around Ellis Field.
“The battalion commander has to ride in the chariot for the first event and trust the craftsmanship of his Marines,” said Spradlin. “It’s hilarious; it’s good for the Marines to laugh. (The field meet) is a time to decompress. It (gives Marines a chance) to enjoy camaraderie throughout the whole chain of command.”
However, not all events could keep with history. Sometimes circumstances force an event to change. For instance, a lumberjack event that involved a two-man saw was modified because the saw is no longer available within the Marine Corps; Marines long ago began using chainsaws instead. The event now uses a team of Marines who alternate to cut lumber with an axe.
“It’s important to see how we we’ve evolved as a (Marine occupational specialty) field,” said Spradlin.
While history is important to the engineers, it wasn’t the highlight of the event. With seven engineer units present and 16 events, which concluded with a singing contest called “Engineer Idol”, the field meet gave its participants something more.
“The engineer field meet is all about fun,” said Spradlin. “It’s about camaraderie. We get together and see friends we haven’t seen in years. Engineers are a tight knit family. It builds camaraderie throughout the whole engineer community, we’re just happy to host it.”