Guam News - Guam News
As soon as U.S. forces captured Tinian from the Japanese in August 1944, SeaBees of the Sixth Naval Construction Brigade built an incredible system of roads in the same grid pattern as Manhattan was created. They also built six massive B-29 bomber strips with lengths of 8500 feet, along with miles of taxiways with "hardstands" sufficient to park 400+ aircraft.
But 65 years of erosion from the elements and tourist travel has left Tinian with few paved roads. Most of the alternate routes on island are in a state of disrepair and are difficult for the average vehicle to navigate.
Luckily, these roads provide excellent training for the heavy equipment operators who need the earth moving experience to hone their skills in an expeditionary environment.
“There were a lot of cracks down the center of the road,” said Staff Sgt. Jose R. Camberos, MAG-12, MWSS-171, Engineer Company heavy equipment operator operations chief. “This road leads to a popular tourist destination called ‘Long Beach.’ We’re not only helping ourselves with getting some extra training out of the way, we’re helping the Tinian people and their economy by repairing this road. I think the relationship between the Marines and the Tinian people is growing because of this training.”
The terrain on Tinian has provided unique training opportunities while performing the repairs.
“It’s hard work since we’re mainly working with coral and limestone,” Camberos said. “We’ve had to get out the shovels and pitchforks. We’re even taking out the rocks by hand to ensure the ground will be smooth for the ride out to the beach. The Marines will get to go back to their shops and teach the Marines who aren’t here what they have learned, which is a lot.”
The Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni based Marines appreciate the opportunity to get this kind of training under their belts.
“For the past two weeks, we were repairing a runway,” said Lance Cpl. Jacob H. Nolan, MAG-12, MWSS-171 heavy equipment operator. “Repairing this road adds to that training. This is exactly what we would be doing in a combat environment as a MWSS: building or repairing runways and air fields for our aircraft to safely operate on.”
The training on Tinian never seems to end. But, the challenges of hot weather, rough terrain and sleeping on cots won’t stop the MAG-12 Marines from completing training and building bridges with the people of Tinian.
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