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Decatur native named top engineer

By 1st Lt. Jacky Chow | III Marine Expeditionary Force | May 20, 2018

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Sgt. Brent Hawkins, a squad leader with Combat Engineering Company, Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, recently won the outstanding squad leader award while participating in the 3rd Annual Marine Corps Combat Engineer Sapper competition held in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Hawkins, a Decatur, IL native, joined the Marine Corps in 2011 out of recruiting station St. Louis. He attended Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. Following Marine Corps Combat Training in California, Hawkins attended the Basic Combat Engineer Course at Courthouse Bay on Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

“I joined the Marine Corps because I wanted to get out of my hometown, and it runs in the family,” said Hawkins. “My grandpa was a Marine; my grandmother was a Marine; my uncle and auntie are currently Marines.

Following graduation from the Basic Engineer Course, Hawkins was assigned to 2nd Marine Division in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. After four and a half years, Hawkins was reassigned to CAB in Okinawa, Japan.

Shortly after he joined the unit, his superiors keyed in on his strong leadership traits. Through his hard work and discipline, he was chosen to represent not only the battalion, but the entire 3rd Marine Division during the elite engineering competition.

“Naturally, Sgt. Hawkins was the obvious choice and was hand selected to execute the Sapper Squad Competition as the Squad Leader,” said Capt. Lee Roberson, the company commander for CEC. “Upon completion of the competition, Sgt Hawkins was given the Sapper Squad Leader Award for the best squad leader of the competition.”

The 3rd annual Marine Corps Combat Engineer Sapper competition is a four-day competition that tests battalions from all over the Marine Corps to see which unit has the best squad of combat engineers. The competition consisted of shooting, land navigation, communications and mobility challenges that tested the squads’ ability to work together throughout the tough challenges.

Though placing 3rd overall in the competition, Hawkins was chosen by the sapper instructors to receive the most outstanding squad leader award.

The term "sapper" is a common term that is used by many military forces around the world. When used by the Marine Corps, the definition is stated as a Marine who uses cunning determination and skill to defeat enemy defenses and fortifications.

Hawkins has since returned to his Okinawa-based unit and continues to lead, mentor, and inspire Marines in his charge across the Pacific area of responsibility.


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