July 8, 2013 --
TORII STATION, Okinawa - The knocking of diesel engines, the smell of dirt and the crash of rocks resounded in the area as the team of combat engineers finished the work that could one day save lives.
Service members with 9th Engineer Support Battalion removed a 60-meter-long wall near U.S. Army Garrison Torii Station’s main gate July 8-12.
“The Yomitan Village requested the removal of the rock wall that had been in place for nearly fifty years because it was creating a traffic hazard that could obstruct the evacuation of people during emergencies and emergency drills,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin P. Nolan of Torii Station.
The station requested the assistance of 9th ESB after establishing that the work would have fallen beyond the capabilities of the units present at Torii Station, according to Nolan.
The clearing of the evacuation route strengthened bonds with residents of the area by demonstrating the willingness of service members to listen to and work with the community.
“The local community was very pleased to hear that the Marines were involved in helping remove the wall,” said Yumiko Uchima, the community relations specialist with the station. “Not only have the community members appreciated the Marines hard work, but the local community leaders and officials have recognized this too.”
The project allowed the Marines to gain experience in an area of their military occupational specialty that they do not routinely exercise.
“Normally, the Marines work on field-expedient jobs, but this project was oriented toward a detailed finished product,” said Staff Sgt. Christian J. Keyser, the project site manager with 9th ESB. “This requires them to focus on careful and deliberate work due to the close proximity of Japanese property.”
The Marines have excelled at the task at hand and have been ahead of schedule since the project began, according to Keyser.
“It is not just about the work but being good ambassadors,” said Keyser. “We should never stop helping our neighbors and community.”
One way the command at Torii Station expressed its appreciation for the Marines’ work and the resulting effect of bringing together both the community and the different branches of service was by taking the Marines in for the length of the project.
“The least we could do to show our appreciation for these young Marines and sailor was to take care of them by housing and feeding them, refueling their equipment, and allowing them access to the facilities at the station,” said Nolan. “I’ve been deployed numerous times and here is my philosophy; it doesn’t matter what (nationality) somebody is or what uniform they wear because at the end of the day we are all brothers and sisters in arms.”
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