MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII --
Irish bagpipes blared through loudspeakers to announce the start of Engineer’s Day, hosted by Combat Logistics Battalion 3 at the green field of Landing Zone Boondocker, March 15.
The event honored the battalion’s Engineers Services Company, which recently formed in June 2012, and brought together dozens of combat engineers for the unit competition.
Engineer’s Day featured Highlandstyle games with a combat engineering twist, a tradition maintained by Marine Corps engineers to celebrate an unlikely patron saint.
“St. Patrick is the patron saint of engineers because according to legend, he built churches with lime mortar instead of clay and showed the Irish how to build arches for churches,” said Master Sgt. Joe Gillard, Engineers Services Company operations chief, CLB-3. “We’ve adopted it for our Engineer’s Day and for the game theme.”
After dividing into several teams, the combat engineers challenged each other in 10 games. Some events used traditional Highland rules, like the open stone and Braemer stone put challenges.
Marines chose one of several stones, weighing 16 to 22 pounds, and tried to throw the longest distance as straight as possible without crossing the start line.
Two Marines from each team competed in the stationary toss for the Braemer stone put and were allowed a short run before throwing in the open stone put.
“Trying to keep your aim straight is the hardest thing,” said Cpl. Kenneth Walker, a combat engineer with the company’s Engineer and Construction Platoon. “It’s awkward trying to lift the rock because there is no place you can grab onto when you throw.”
Some events uniquely featured Marine Corps-style twists in celebration of combat engineers. In the sheaf toss, traditionally using a pitchfork and a sheaf of bundled straw, the Marines used engineer’s tools instead: a shovel and a bag of rope.
For these games with a twist, participants used equipment most readily available to Marine combat engineers. In the caber toss, traditionally featuring competitors tossing logs or poles, the Marines tossed planks of wood instead. Kettlebells replaced the chain and handled-weights used in a standard Highlands weight throw.
The rest of the Engineer’s Day challenges were more familiar Marine Corps activities: a weapons relay, a team push of a High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle and team tire flip relay.
Those events posed an unusual challenge for several combat engineers who wore green kilts over workout shorts in celebration of the event. Some, lost the green garments while running in the weapons relay, but carried on to finish their leg.
“There’s more pressure to do it fast with everyone watching you,” said Lance Cpl. Jonathan Paulino, combat engineer, Combat Engineer Platoon. “It was harder to do because (the rifle) was very slippery with extra (cleaner, lubricant and preservative).”
Gillard and other CLB-3 leaders said they plan to host Engineer’s Day next year. He encourages other Marine Corps combat engineers on Oahu including those from other base units, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific and U.S. Pacific Command to participate.
“These games are a long-standing tradition in the Marine Corps and even among civilian engineers,” Gillard said. “Across the Marine Corps engineers do this on St. Patrick’s Day, and traditionally the games change every year.”
With the popularity of this year’s games, CLB-3 laid the foundation for a fun tradition at MCB Hawaii.