MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, North Carolina — Tree falling! Tree falling, Watch out!” a Marine yells out, as a deep muffled crack splits the air followed by the whooshing of pine needles and rustle of leaves, and the tree makes its way to the ground almost in slow motion, landing with a final heavy thud.
With their helmets, gloves and chainsaws, the Marines from Bridge Company, 8th Engineer Support Battalion spent the day learning how to fell trees with calculated accuracy and proper safety precautions to help clear the way for the II Marine Expeditionary Force’s future operations, at Camp Lejeune, Oct. 13 and 14.
“This training provided an opportunity for Marines to get hands-on experience with the nuances of using a chainsaw to provide better support to the unit and the surrounding area in the wake of Hurricane Matthew,” said Staff Sgt. Scott Sauer, 1st platoon sergeant with Bridge Company. “We use these chainsaws for a number of different tasks; number one is destructive weather. We just had a hurricane that blew through, so we had combat engineers on standby to remove [trees] from roadways so they wouldn’t restrict emergency vehicles.”
Not just any Marine is authorized to pick up a chainsaw and start clearing debris though. Marines of 8th ESB must take a chainsaw licensing course to learn the proper techniques on how to fell a tree and ensure maximum safety and efficiency in the process.
“Say for example we’re doing an operation and a tree happens to fall down into the road,” said Lance Cpl. Aaron Troyer, a combat engineer with 8th ESB, taking the course. “We have to clear it out. Then that’s where this chainsaw licensing will come in handy, and we’ll be able to go in there and cut up the log, move it out of the way, and continue on with the mission.”
No matter the obstacles nature provides, whether in the form of a river to cross, a boulder to move, or a tree to cut down, these Marines’ job is to find a way around them. Ironically, even during the first day of training, they were presented a challenge that they hadn’t planned for.
“Yesterday we were at base stables where there was a downed tree. The tree was already on its side so they were able to learn how to cut the tree in a controlled environment,” said Sauer.
As the first day came to an end, where they had originally found a grove of tall thin trees, the Marines of Bravo Company now left a gathering of stumps behind them, unnoticed under the tall underbrush at Landing Zone Flamingo. These Marines will return tomorrow to continue to train the rest of their newest Marines and to ensure that the II MEF mission can always continue.