TEGUCIGALPA – After a six month deployment to Honduras, nearly two hundred Marines are returning home to the United States.
Working alongside Honduran military and local government officials, the Marines completed important construction projects in the Gracias a Dios region of Honduras and kept their heavy equipment ready to respond in the event of a natural disaster in the region.
“I am proud of the work the Marines have done in Honduras,” said U.S. Ambassador James D. Nealon. “They came at the invitation of the Honduran government and provided humanitarian and other assistance that will pay dividends for years to come. Most of all, we are thankful that the region avoided the kind of natural disaster, like a hurricane, that could have required their specialized skills in a relief effort.”
The construction projects consisted of three new elementary schools in Puerto Lempira and an airfield that was renovated and improved in Mocoron.
“Renovating the airfield will help out the country a lot because it means that they’ll be able to land more supplies, such as aid material in the event of a natural disaster,” said 1st Lt. Tyler Martin, engineer detachment officer-in-charge for the airfield project. “They’ll not only be able to get the supplies that they need in, but personnel as well.”
In order to strengthen the airfield enough to withstand landings from larger aircraft, the Marines in Mocoron worked for approximately three months widening, compacting, leveling and spraying a polymer-based agent called Operational Ready Dirt to stabilize the unpaved airstrip.
“We widened the airfield to make it within standards, leveled it out, so that all the high and low points are evened out, and strengthened the soil on the top 1,000 feet,” said Martin. “We cut out the weak soil and replaced it with more adequate soil and compacted it. Then, we added the Ops Dirt on top, which acted just like concrete.”
The school projects were completed by a detachment of approximately 50 Marines led by 1st Lt. Erin Mick, an engineer platoon commander. The team was able to complete all three schools in little more than three months. “We basically built three new schools from the ground up, which allowed students to move into a better learning environment,” she said.
While construction was going on in Mocoron and Puerto Lempira, a small group of Marines provided assistance to the Honduran Infantes de Marina to establish a training school at Naval Base Puerto Castilla which will become the central training center for all Honduran Marines.
With their completed projects behind them, the Marines will be returning to the U.S. just in time to spend the holidays with their friends and family, and having made many new friends in Honduras.