The Marines have landed: MAG-11 and MWHS-3 arrive, unite with MWSS-373

8 May 2007 | Sgt. W. A. Napper Jr.

More than 100 Marines from Marine Aircraft Group 11 headquarters and Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 3 stepped off a DC-10 and arrived here Jan. 25, as part of Amphibious Task Force West and in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.After sorting their bags from several fully-loaded five-ton trucks, Marines had little time to waste - unless they wanted to sleep out under the stars, they had to get to work to finish construction on their tents.According to Staff Sgt. Wendell Pelletier, Marine Wing Support Squadron 373 construction foreman, MWSS-373 Marines worked nonstop for more than a week to get the camp prepared and the new arrivals were more than obliged to help."We'll have about 150 units built by the end of today, with around 400 done - minus workspaces - done by the end of February," said the 29-year-old Ohio native. "We started work on the 7th of January and got relief on about the 19th (with more Marines) and then four days ago we got some more augments, so the pace for construction has really picked up."When the last few boards were nailed in place, MAG-11 Marines grabbed general purpose tents and hoisted them over the tops of the A-frame structures. Marines climbed the rafters on each side to help those below finish the job faster. By the time enough structures were completed and the Marines moved in, they got their game plan together, received a quick tour of the base, ate dinner and called it a day.As the sun rose on Jan. 25, the Marines grabbed hammers and nails and continued expanding tent city. Their own homes completed, the new tents are slated for Marines from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 225 and other squadrons, scheduled to arrive in the next few weeks.This complete departure from their day-to-day responsibilities at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., is a welcome change for most here."It shows Marines how to be flexible, filling a void where it's needed," said Lance Cpl. Teodoro Medrano, MAG-11 Defense Messaging System administrator. "Getting these tents done is a big part of getting the mission accomplished. We don't know the Marines we're building these tents for, but it doesn't matter - they're Marines and when they get here they have to sleep somewhere."The 22-year-old California native was scheduled to end his Marine Corps career in 10 months, but stop loss and MAG-11's deployment changed that for him."I came to grips with not getting out pretty quick," he said. "I'm fine with it - history is about to be written and I'm happy and proud to be a part of it."In only a couple of days tent city has nearly doubled in size, and electricity is being installed so Marines can see inside after the sun dips below the horizon. Even with the breakneck, around the clock work schedule, Pelletier said the Marines' morale is at an all-time high."Everything's going really well out here," he said. "Morale is incredibly high because the Marines are doing what they're trained to do. They're building these tents and structures, and that's why they're here."