MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Marines with the Combat Center’s Headquarters Battalion gathered Feb. 24, 2011, to improve the living conditions of their barracks.
“We are trying to make the barracks more of a place the Marines can be proud to call ‘home’ as oppose to where they stay,” said Cpl. Eric Kotynski, the barracks manager for HQBN. “The Marines deserve a good place to stay, and if we have to get them all out here, working together and building a little unit cohesion, then so be it.”
Battalion leaders planned their attack by focusing on specific goals, such as making outdoor common areas more enjoyable.
“[We want] to make it more attractive for the Marines who live in the barracks to come and congregate here rather than going out in town,” said Capt. Michael Wopschall, the operations officer for HQBN.
Both the number of Marines who showed up to help and the speed of their work exceeded the expectations of their leaders.
“We came out with the initial idea of putting together teams and focusing individuals groups of six or seven Marines on specific tasks,” Wopschall said. “What had happened was some of the tasks finished early, and we surged Marines to the areas we needed them the most.”
Marines layed a stone border around the barracks, and also built four smoke pits.
“There was only one smoke pit in the whole area, and that is one of the complaints the [commanding officer] has been hearing when he has breakfast with all the different ranks at a time,” said First Sgt. Nelson A. Hidalgo, the company first sergeant of Company B., HQBN.
The stone border project is only in stage one, as the group ran into complications. A supply shortage of cement blocks meant the Marines could only encircle one section of the barracks.
“Right now we are focusing on the middle area as a recreational, nice place to eat,” Hidalgo said. “Then in another two or three weeks, we are going to hit both sides.”
Hidalgo and the other member of the battalion’s leadership expect the barracks restorations project to be completed as soon as the remaining pallets of stone arrive.